The Opposition Party has demanded an immediate release of the 14th Labour Force Survey Report (LFRS) 2016-2017 in its authentic form.

In a press release it issued yesterday, the opposition stated that the government is hiding the employment report and deceiving the public and nation.

“The refusal by the government to release the LFSR is a clear act of deception of the public and the nation,” it stated. “Even after over eight months of completion of the survey, the government has refused to release the report. It should have been released latest by April 2017.”

At the meet the press on August 4, Prime Minister, Tshering Tobgay said that to avoid having three different employment figures, the LFSR would not be published. Lyonchhen said that the government would instead wait for the Bhutan Living Standard Survey (BLSS) 2017 report to consider the employment figures. “The overall unemployment rate has come down, but youth unemployment rate has increased marginally,” the prime minister had said. “We are not hiding any numbers but we’re just waiting for the living standard report.”

Kuensel was told earlier that the labour ministry could not generate the report because of flaws in the survey. Labour officials claimed that they needed to review the findings of the LFSR.

The opposition stated that the decision to not publish the report is the highest height of manipulation and deception by the government that had promised 100 percent employment.

“The reason cited was that it would duplicate the employment figures that would be brought out also by the BLSS and National Population and Housing Census (NPHC), which is a mere excuse,” the press release stated. “We understand that the release of the report was deliberately held up due to fear of exposing the alarming unemployment figures.”

The opposition party states that LFS report is the principal reference report for labour and employment matters and it must be released irrespective of other surveys reporting on the same subject, as the periods of all these surveys are different.

According to the press release, the LFS 2016 was conducted from November 23 to December 22, 2016, while BLSS was conducted from March 1 to April 30, 2017 and NPHC from 30 to June 1, 2017.

“It should be noted that LFS Report was released in the past also, irrespective of the other two reports,” the press release stated. “This is such first incidence since LFSR was started in 1998 and it is a deliberate attempt by the government to obstruct the citizens’ Right to Information.”

The LFSR is published every year on the current employment situation. The 13th nationwide LFSR, 2015, found the overall unemployment rate at 2.5 percent. Youth unemployment rate was 10.7 percent and female unemployment rate was 12.7 percent.

Labour minister, Ngeema Sangay Tshempo, who is in Trashiyangtse, said he has no comments since both the minister and prime minister have already responded to the issue during the meet the press.

Yangchen C Rinzin