Bhutan’s long journey to ILO 

Yangchen C Rinzin

For more than 10 years, Bhutan has been working to become a member of the International Labour Organisation (ILO).

Panbang MP Dorji Wangdi asked if the government is still pursuing it during the question-answer session at the National Assembly on February 7.

Labour and human resources minister Ugyen Dorji said that despite the discussions in the ministry, the issue has not reached Cabinet yet.

“We’ve discussed the importance and advantage of the membership and if necessary, we’ll raise it in the Parliament,” Lyonpo Ugyen Dorji said. “Since 1998 the agenda to join ILO has been discussed and more thoroughly by the two previous governments.” 

Bhutan has been participating in the ILO as an observer every year since 1998.

Dorji Wangdi said that with the unemployment issue in the country and the increasing number of Bhutanese leaving for overseas employment, it has become important to join the ILO.

“With the ILO, we can employ youth within Bhutan and ILO can provide employment 100 percent,” Dorji Wangdi said. “Apart from that, it would also contribute to the country’s economic growth.” 

Bartsham-Shongphu MP Passang Dorji also asked the labour minister on the government’s strategy to address youth unemployment.

“About 14,000 youths were in the job market last year and another 8,000 is expected to be in the market,” he said. “Government should have plans to curb such an issue.”

Labour Minister Ugyen Dorji said that to solve the unemployment issue, firstly, there is a need for economic growth and development including vocational knowledge in the education system.

Lyonpo said that the government’s current work on the economic roadmap will also curb the economic problems thereby addressing unemployment too.

Other strategies, lyonpo said were tax reforms, TVET reforms, Gyalsung programme, youth engagement and livelihood programme, cottage and small industries, and startup flagship programme.

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