Yangyel Lhaden 

The labour ministry raised monthly wage for employees of Build Bhutan Project (BBP) in an effort to motivate, inspire and encourage Bhutanese to work in construction sectors.

The new wage ranges from Nu 25,200 for unskilled workers to Nu 32,000 for engineers with university degree. Diploma engineers will be paid Nu 30,800, National certificate (NC3 master craftsperson) Nu 30,150 and NC2 (craftsperson) workers Nu 28,500.

Before the revision, unskilled workers were paid Nu 13,200, NC3 Nu 18,150, NC2 Nu 16,500, diploma holders Nu 19,800, and degree engineers Nu 22,000.

The revision is, however, through an increase in wage top- up and construction allowance.

Revised top up and incentives

Revised top up and incentives

The raise is 110 percent for unskilled workers and between 25 percent to 60 percent increase for degree engineers.

Labour minister, Ugyen Dorji, said that there would be no financial implication to employers as the top-up was from the government and minimum wage to be paid by the employer remained the same.

The government would bear the wage top-up of Nu 6,000 to all employees and construction allowance of Nu 6,000 to unskilled workers, NC2, and NC3, Nu 5,000 to diploma holders, and Nu 4,000 to engineers with degree certificate.

An additional Nu 3,000 scarcity allowance is entitled for masons both in skilling and engagement.

An official from BBP, Choki Tashi, said that not many chose masonry works and scarcity allowance was to encourage Bhutanese to take up skilling in masonry.

In skilling programmes, Nu 6,000 stipend and Nu 3,000 for food and accommodation would be provided to individuals. During on job training (OJT), Nu 6,000 stipend, Nu 9000, DSA, and Nu 6,000 partial wage by employer would be provided to individuals.

Choki Tashi said that through the pay revision, it was expected for people to opt for skilling programmes rather than engagement programmes. “This will ensure sustainability and people’s interest to be in this sector for a long time.”

Officials with BBP also said that wage increase was one of the many incentives by the ministry to address labour issues and boom skilled workers from within the country in near future. “The ministry felt the need to increase the wages during pandemic when cost of living was becoming dearer with inflation.”

Workers with BBP are ensured social security through provident fund schemes and sustainability unlike working in other construction sectors.

The press release from labour ministry stated that generally, construction industry everywhere followed contract system instead of usual salary system in other sectors but as the country lacked critical mass of domestic workers and to address the issues, direct financial incentives was needed to attract people.

There are 549 BBP workers engaged in direct employment scheme as of December 31, 2020. In the skilling programmes there are 451 candidates of which 248 have completed and are on OJT and 203 currently undergoing skilling program in four technical training institutes.

With support of the project, there are 22 specialised firms established. To address the shortage of skilled workforce, 73 individuals are certified through recognition of prior learning.

The BBP project was introduced under economic contingency plan which was launched on July 1 last year to address shortage of foreign construction workers by engaging individuals impacted by the pandemic- registered unemployed, laid-off employees, employees on unpaid leave and overseas returnees.