The labour ministry has provided an option of loan term extension scheme to the youth in Japan who are on overseas employment skills development (OESD) programme.

This means the youth placed in Japan through the learn and earn programme would have an option to extend their loan term they had availed to learn Japanese language, pursue higher education, enroll into vocational colleges or get full time employment there.

According to the ministry’s notification on the loan extension, the youth can repay the loan within the period of seven years for university graduates and nine years for class 12 graduates. This however does not include the grace period the ministry earlier extended. The interest accumulated will be spread across the term.

An official from the ministry said that the loan extension would be effective from the day the youth apply for an extension and complete the formalities with the bank. “This option has an added benefit of reduced equated monthly installment,” an official said.

The official added that youth could now approach the banks directly and apply for extension if they choose to and complete the formalities. The deadline to opt the facility has been kept open for the time being.

“The OESD loan deferment facility or OESD loan term extension facility is optional and those who are not interested can continue with their present loan schedule,” the notification states.

This is an addition to the approved OESD loan deferment facility the ministry had provided to help Bhutanese youth in Japan.

The government implemented the loan deferment in March. According to the recent State of the Nation report, 51 youth have opted for the loan deferment scheme. More than 700 youth had availed for the learn and earn programme, of which more than 200 youth have already returned to Bhutan.

Each youth has taken loans ranging from Nu 600,000 to Nu 700,000 at the rate of 8 percent interest. Currently, they pay Nu 14,000 as interest.

While Kuensel could not contact the labour minister for comments, it was learnt that the decision on the loan extension came recently after one of the banks informed the ministry and sought the suggestion to explore for such a facility. The bank made the request following youth’s request to the bank for a loan term extension. The facility was approved after the ministry put up to the Prime Minister.

Yangchen C Rinzin