The bitter reality behind the mass Australian exodus

The dollar lure is getting more pronounced by the day as thousands leave for the greener pastures of Australia, Canada and the United States every month. The few firms that deal with overseas Visa, including the passport division in the foreign affairs ministry, are being overwhelmed as hundreds queue up every day to seek their fortune elsewhere from the country.

As of today there are more than 30,000 Bhutanese working and studying in Australia alone, in addition there are couple more thousands trying to eke out their fortunes in the United States of America, Canada and the Middle East.

Back home, the offices and streets are getting emptied and a few, majority of them youth fresh after acquiring a university degree, who are left back are also not keen on pursuing a career at home given the rising cost of living, unchecked inflation, weak social-safety nets, bureaucratic hurdles, and pathetic wage rates, and so the list goes on.

While Bhutan has been successful in leading the country to unprecedented developmental heights, one key area where we have failed is to put a check on the rising cost of living, while income disparities have widened over the decades. Most citizens working in the private sectors are exploited with no financial and social security nets in place. Working hours are tedious and wage rates are ridiculously low while regulations remain just in papers.

And worst of all, the bureaucratic hurdle that stiffens and unnecessarily makes service delivery a nightmare takes the pie among the numerous lists of negativity that forces our citizens to go elsewhere to seek their fortunes. A majority of those who have opted to migrate abroad state that the ease of doing business in Bhutan is a nightmare, and that the private sector, otherwise deemed the engine of economic growth, remains just in papers and a far cry from reality.

If Bhutan continues the trend of handing over the majority of the economic resources to a select aristocratic few while stiffening the regulation for small and upcoming private entities, the scenario of Bhutanese leaving in droves to seek greener pasture elsewhere will just surge and reach to such a point that one day only the old and the less educated would have remained back home.

Our government must ensure level playing field for every citizens while trade and commerce should be liberalized so that every individual have an equal share of our economic pie. We should ensure that our friends and relatives who are working in the private sector, especially in the hotel and hospitality sector, are not exploited while being paid meager sums that can hardly see them through the month.

Today, even the civil service which was once touted as the ultimate career choice is seen as drab and unrewarding. Imagine our brethrens working in the private sector with low salaries, long working hours and no provisions for leaves or pensions. No wonder, Australia remains the only hope and redemption for many.