After a leave of more than five months over alleged corruption in trainings provided by the ministry, labour minister Ngeema Sangay Tshempo returned to office yesterday.

A press release from the cabinet secretariat stated that the minister had resumed office and took over the official functions.

The labour minister was on leave of absence since January 5 during which time the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) investigated various training programmes of the ministry.

The prime minister had taken the decision to send him on paid leave to ensure independent investigation without any interference on the request of the minister himself.

Lyonpo Ngeema Sangay Tshempo had volunteered to stay on leave while the investigation was being carried out in order to ensure independent investigation by the ACC.

“The government is grateful to Lyonpo Ngeema for taking leave of absence thereby allowing the ACC to investigate the case without any real or perceived intervention from the minister,” it stated.

The cabinet secretariat also expressed gratefulness to the secretary, directors and other officials in the ministry for providing full support to Prime Minister Tshering Tobgay, who officiated during the absence of the labour minister.

Lyonpo Ngeema Sangay Tshempo said that the prime minister had called him and asked him to resume office. He said he would be present in the upcoming parliament session.

“We don’t have much time left. I want to hand over the 11th Plan works smoothly,” he said.

He said that although he didn’t go to work he was in contact with the officials in the ministry and worked from behind the scene. However, he didn’t comment on the alleged corruption, when asked if he felt that the corruption allegations were credible.

He said he had voluntarily offered to go on paid leave when the allegations came up. He said the investigations are not yet over.

The government in January had asked the ACC to conduct an “immediate and thorough” investigation on an alleged corruption into the labour ministry’s training programmes.

The government asked for the investigation after the Prime Minister’s Office received several informal complaints.

The complaints were said to be related to possible incidences of corruption and collusion by the ministry particularly in awarding contracts relating to trainings in India and to Japan.

MB Subba