Budget: To facilitate employment programmes, an additional budget of Nu 262.8 million (M) has been proposed in the supplementary budget and appropriation Bill for the 2016-17 fiscal year.

The proposal was made in yesterday’s National Assembly session.

This takes the total budget for 2016-17 to Nu 55.09 billion (B) from the approved Nu 54.8B.

The revision in the budget is to be financed from the interest received from the financial institutions on account of subordinated debt instruments under the Economic Stimulus Plan (ESP).

A fund of Nu 2.1B has been injected into the banks from the Nu 5B ESP fund to improve liquidity in the market in 2014. The condition was that the financial institutions are required to pay the government an annual interest rate of six percent for a period of 10 years.

However, the opposition member from Panbang, Dorji Wangdi said unemployment has reached a “crisis level” and that the opposition will support the government’s initiatives.

He said that urban unemployment and urban youth unemployment has shot up substantially compared with 2013. About 79 percent of the 8,860 unemployed in 2015 consists of youth, he said.

Pointing to the employment schemes, Dorji Wangdi said these programmes are only meant to fulfil the government’s pledge by the end of their tenure. “The job plan is only for 18 months. This is will not facilitate employment to a sustainable level,” he said.

Labour minister Ngeema Sangay Tshempo denied this and explained that all employment programs are targeted towards long-term benefit.

He said that the government has to provide 25,535 jobs in the 2016-17 fiscal year. Of that about 8,000 people are expected to be absorbed within the economy.

Again, 1,600 jobseekers would be absorbed through cost-sharing basis of the Direct Employment Scheme. This means that the government will provide half of Nu 7,500 to class 10 level jobseekers and half of the amount is to be born by the employer. For class 12 level, the government is providing Nu 5,200 and the employer is mandated to pay at least Nu 3,800.

At the graduate level, the government provides Nu 7,500 a person a month. They are entitled to at least Nu 11,200 a month, should they be employed through this scheme. This is expected to cost the government Nu 43.5M in this fiscal year.

The other direct employment scheme is aimed at absorbing 1,210 jobseekers and Nu 117.9M is allotted for this purpose.

Lyonpo Ngeema Sangay Tsempo explained that 427 jobseekers would be trained in farm machineries and the government would bear their salaries till they can sustain on their own. Another 207 would be absorbed in the farm shops and if possible youth would be employed within the villages and gewogs.

One hundred ninety one jobs would be created in the livestock sector, especially the fisheries, and trout, poultry, piggery and turkey farms.

The Urban Greening Corporation is also expected to employ 288 jobseekers, while five different programmes would be introduced in the Agency for Promotion of Indigenous Arts and Craft (APIC).

Moreover, the overseas employment scheme is also expected to take in 1,329 jobseekers in the 2016-17 fiscal year.

In total the government expects to employ 4,139 people within this fiscal year but still the minister said that the government has created 1,642 more jobs to absorb everyone in the job market.

Prime Minister Tshering Tobgay said the issue of people not willing to take jobs available has existed in the past and continues to do so even today.

However, he said that the situation has changed. The lottery business, which he said has been run by Indians in the past, is now run by Bhutanese.

Likewise, Bhutanese are now involved in bridge construction and tunneling works.

Lyonchoen said that the poor economy in the past years coupled with Rupee shortage, credit restrictions and sluggish growth in internal revenue has narrowed down the job opportunities.

Tshering Dorji