Pay raise for Bhutanese working in the Middle East starting next year

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In response to the rising living costs abroad, the Bhutanese working in the Middle East will receive a pay raise from next year. The Department of Employment and Entrepreneurship under the Industry, Commerce and Employment Ministry confirmed this. According to the department, the decision was made after an in-depth overseas employment programme monitoring survey. The survey revealed that Bhutanese working in the Middle East are facing challenges in meeting their expenses.

During the survey, the Department of Employment and Entrepreneurship under the Industry, Commerce and Employment Ministry received responses from 895 Bhutanese who are currently working in Kuwait, Qatar, Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates.

According to the survey, the respondents were somewhat satisfied with the transportation and medical allowances. The majority of them were not happy with their salaries, accommodation, overtime payments, salary increments and other incentives.

Most of the respondents were working as sales workers, personal services workers, food preparation assistants, and staff working in hospitality and other services. And most of their salary ranges from Nu 30,000 to 40,000.

BBS also talked with some of the Bhutanese living in the Middle East. They said the salaries should be increased considering the rising living cost.

“Talking about the living standard here in Kuwait, it is quite high compared to Bhutan. It is because everything is imported here. In order to sustain ourselves, it depends on how much we are paid for our work. So, if we don’t get paid well, it is very difficult to live here,” said Keshab Bhujel who is working in Kuwait.

A Bhutanese who returned from the Middle East earlier this year also said besides other services, health checkups entail a lot of expenses.

“Companies are supposed to provide workers health cards but my company did not give health cards. So, we had to pay 100 Qatari riyals and make one ourselves. If we have a health card, medical expenses are less but if we do not have one, expenses are double or triple the actual expense.”

After conducting the survey, the Department of Employment and Entrepreneurship coordinated with the Registered Bhutanese Overseas Employment Agents in the Middle East about the salary raise. According to the officials from the department, the minimum pay raise will be Nu 10,000.

And the increase will be provided from January next year.

Since 2018, the Ministry of Industry, Commerce, and Employment has been involved in coordinating the overseas employment of Bhutanese in countries, such as Kuwait, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, and Oman. This initiative has been carried out in collaboration with recognised Bhutanese employment outbound agents.

Around 2,000 Bhutanese are working in the Middle East.

Karma Samten Wangda

Edited by Tshering Zam