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Instead, the PM said, it’s a sign of private sector development 

HR: Although it was a concern, Prime Minister Tshering Tobgay clarified that engineers leaving the civil service to join the private sector is an indication of private sector development and not a worrying issue.

At the 19th meet the press session, lyonchoen said that following media reports on increasing number of civil engineers leaving the works and human settlement ministry, Royal Civil Service Commission (RCSC) was consulted. RCSC reported to the government that of the total 898 engineers in the civil service, 28 resigned last year.

“While it is a bit worrying, it is almost a good sign of private sector development,” he said. “The worry is that the ministry has to shoulder infrastructure works worth billion of ngultrums.”

For instance the East-West highway up gradation works, he said, is worth Nu 8B. Construction and improvement of national highways and bridges work have allocation of about Nu 33B in the 11th Plan.

For gewog centre road black topping alone, another Nu 6700M has been allocated. Also Nu 4.60B worth works will be carried out for construction of schools and Nu 2.30B for constructing hospitals.

When there is a lot of construction works in the country, it is necessary to have enough skilled engineers, lyonchoen said.

While there are lot of people wanting to join civil service and every year about 200 engineers graduate from the two engineering colleges of College of Science and Technology and Jigme Namgyel Polytechnic, engineer leaving civil service is nothing to be worried about. 

“When skilled engineers are leaving civil service and opting to join private sector, it is a sign of boom in private sector,” he said. “ It’s a sign of economic development.”

For now the government will face shortage of engineers, but it’s not an unresolvable issue, he said.  “If the country’s economy doesn’t develop, everyone will hold onto government jobs.”

Moreover, a lot of works related to electric engineering are opening, he said. “It is an indication that private sector is growing and opportunities are plenty in private sector.”

Bhutan at the moment has a total of 3,894 contractors. Of which 148 are class A contractors. In 2014, construction sector alone contributed Nu 18.50B to the Gross Domestic Product. It amounted to 15.5 percent of the total GDP contribution last year.

The issue on engineers was raised during the works and human settlement ministry’s mid-term review on September 10. Particularly in the Department of Roads (DoR), director Karma Galay had reported that qualified and experienced engineers are leaving the department to join the private sector.

“They cite reasons such as lack of career path, especially to become executives, greener pastures and lack of training and other opportunists,” the director had said.

In the last two years between July 2013 and August 2015, a total of 134 engineers resigned from the ministry. The highest number of engineers at 57 resigned from the department of engineering services, followed by DoR, which lost 53 of its skilled people.

Another 24 left civil service from four thromdes, construction development board and the Secretariat.

Chief Human Resource officer of ministry, Pem Tshewang said that on retrospection, most of the voluntary resignations of mid to senior level engineers were leaving for greener pastures where remuneration and other monetary benefits was far better than in the civil service.

One of the recommendations presented during the mid-term review, as a measure to retain skilled engineers was that the government instruct the RCSC to allow civil servants with engineering background to become executives.

Other recommendations include providing better training and other exposure opportunities to engineers, allowing diploma engineering to take up the position of chief engineers and scarcity allowance.

Nirmala Pokhrel

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