ACC: The Foreign Workers Recruitment Agencies (FWRA) in Phuentsholing now await directions from the labour ministry to start operating their businesses.

This comes after the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) annulled the suspension after more than year.

There are 22 recruitment agents in the bordering town looking forward to begin re-operating their business. Last year in August, the ACC had suspended 21 recruitment agents in connection to corrupt practices in which 30 immigration staff were suspended from their service.

ACC investigation had uncovered two distinct schemes of bribery, one at the entry level and another at the time of exit. Corruption mainly occurred while sending in foreign workers from across the border with the fake documents.

Although both FWRAs and immigration could access foreign workers’ original identification, bribery occurred with the foreign workers being allowed to enter Bhutan with fake voter cards printed across the border.

Fake voter cards were processed for work permits by FWRA who paid bribes to the alleged inspectors and officials. The actual legal fee the immigration charge for processing a foreign worker’s work permit is Nu 200.

Another situation in which the illegal practice occurred was at the time when a foreign worker was caught either without a work permit or an expired work permit. In this case, the legal penalty charged is Nu 9,900.

Police and taxi drivers were also involved

Labour officials in Phuentsholing regional office told Kuensel that they will have to wait for instructions from the headquarters.

“As of now there is nothing we have received,” regional director said, explaining the office would direct the recruitment agencies only after they are instructed. Labour ministry has blocked the labour recruitment agencies’ online accounts through which they operate.

Labour agent owners, on the other hand, are positive about rescission.

The owner of Deychhog FWRA, Karma Dorji, said he was relieved after hearing the news.

“I wish to serve the people better,” the proprietor said, adding he would look for innovative ways to do his business.

Another FWRA proprietor, Bijoy Chhetri, said he has called his employees back after hearing the news.

Labour ministry is currently in the process of finalising and endorsing new rules and regulation.

Rajesh Rai,  Phuentsholing