Council: The National Council has called upon the government to explain how the ceiling on foreign workers has been allowed to have been exceeded and to urgently review the foreign workers ceiling.

During the final deliberation on the report presented by the legislative committee of the National Council, the house yesterday called upon the government to review the ceilling taking into consideration all ongoing and planned major hydropower projects as well as other major infrastructure development activities in the country, along with a pragmatic plan to gradually reduce and replace the foreign workers with Bhutanese workers.

The legislative committee on June 9 presented a report on the growing threat on safety and security from the rising number of illegal immigrants in the country.

According to the report, the number of expatriate workers in the country has exceeded the foreign workers ceiling of 45,000. As per its data, the labour department has approved work permits for 48,675 foreign workers as of April 6 this year.

Similarly, the Department of Immigration reported issuing work permits to 45,712 foreign workers as of April 5 this year.

Also considering that about 20,000 estimated foreign day workers in the border towns work without permits as babysitters and maids, the house called upon the government to bring in all foreign day workers within the purview of labour and immigration laws and strictly enforce the provisions of prevailing laws on all other illegal immigrants.

The house also requested urgent attention from the government to ensure the terms of employment and recruitment process for non-uniform employees of Project DANTAK and IMTRAT in line with the national immigration and labour laws.

While the members expressed gratitude to project DANTAK for its role in the country’s socio-economic development, and unwavering desire for continuity of excellent co-operation between the RBA and IMTRAT, the house also shared concerns over the issue of around 5,000 non-uniformed employees of Project DANTAK and IMTRAT.

Considering the critical need for adequate resources in view of opening of new highways along the border areas in the southern region, the committee also recommended the government to urgently address the issue of much-needed additional manpower, infrastructure and other facilities required by law enforcement agencies in the existing check points, out posts and newly opened roads along the border.

The recommendations were based in the interest of national security and security of law enforcement personnel as well as to curb interferences from both internal and external agencies.

The house adopted the recommendations with all nineteen members present voting for the resolutions proposed by the committee.

Younten Tshedup