The labour ministry is analysing the possibility of Bhutan becoming a member of International Labour Organisation (ILO) and that it was not sure if it would occur in the current plan, according to labour minister Ngeema Sangay Tshempo.

The minister was responding to Panbang Member of Parliament (MP) Dorji Wangdi’s during a question hour on June 2 on the status of the country to get the ILO membership. He said detailed groundwork was initiated since the tenth Plan for Bhutan’s membership but no progress has been made since then and that Bhutan has remained an observer.

“Last year, the Prime Minister said that the government has ran out of ideas to create jobs and one of the advantages in joining ILO is to get ideas to create employment,” he said.

The MP added that becoming a member would also ensure safety and security of Bhutanese working abroad.

Lyonpo Ngeema Sangay Tshempo said further consultation with different stakeholders and the foreign ministry is required before applying for membership in the interest of country’s future.

“Right after the government was formed, we had enquired from both labour and foreign ministries on the status and discussion has been going on,” Lyonpo said. “We received a letter from the foreign ministry in 2015 asking if the labour ministry has reviewed on whether the country would take in accountability and if Bhutan is ready to become a member of ILO.”

The ILO is a tripartite U.N. agency that brings together governments, employers and workers representatives of 187 member countries to set labour standards, develop policies and devise programmes promoting decent work for all women and men.

Lyonpo added it was important to review the rules and regulations and study different benefits the country would get from the ILO. He said the membership fee would be USD 7,973, which should be paid from the annual budget.

With directives from the foreign ministry, Lyonpo said, the ministry has carried out national interest analysis, which would look into procedures to become a member and its accountability.

“We should also consider the communities’ benefits, impact on culture, economy, political influence, and if it aligns with the country’s various existing Acts,” he said. “We’ve to also discuss with the construction industry and contractors, which are already included in the national interest analysis.”

Lyonpo said there are more than 900 large and medium industries and about 15,000 cottage industries and 4,121 contractors. “That is why it is important for a detailed consultation before joining so that people would not complain like they did for BBIN,” he said.

Yangchen C Rinzin