Cabinet discussing revising pay for daily wage laborers

The decision will see light of the day before the end of the government’s tenure

The Cabinet is discussing on the revision of pay for the daily wage laborers of National Workforce (NWF) which is Nu 215 per day.

“It’s tough to even get labour contribution in the villages to work for Nu 500 per day also. We wondered how the current daily wage workers are working along the roadside at Nu 215 a day. That prompted us to mull over and encouraged us to revise their wage,” Finance Minister (FM) Namgay Tshering said on Friday at the 51st and the last meet-the-press session of the current government.

Lyonpo said that six pay commissions have come and gone and the third pay commission had eclipsed when the present government came to power. “However, our concerns were raised in all the pay commissions thenceforth.”

According to the FM, there are two types of daily wage laborers under NWF; the laborers working on the roadsides under the aegis of Department of Roads (DoR) and the other, laborers who work for the renovation of religious national monuments.

Lyonpo shared that wages for those working on the roads are paid from the budget allocated for that particular road and project. Similarly the wages for those renovating and maintaining dzongs are paid from the budget allocated for that specific project.

“It’s primarily project-based payments. So, there is no scope and consistency if we increase their wages today because they got a project in hand, but nothing tomorrow because there isn’t any project. So we need to look at the abnormalities and strategies on how to raise their pay so that everything will be balanced. Therefore it is being discussed in the cabinet which still has three more working days before the government’s tenure ends.”

Meanwhile, with regard to the pay raise for the State Owned Enterprises (SOEs), the FM outlined that pay revision proposals were invited from all the SOEs under the purview of the Ministry of Finance (MoF). Most of the SOEs proposed between 45-74 percent pay raise which is at par with the civil servants. Only few SOEs proposed revision keeping their respective status and affordability at the forefront.

After scrutinizing all the proposals in consultation with the respective SOEs, the Ministry decided that three SOEs will receive 100 percent support from the government through equity or subsidy. “These SOEs are more into fulfilling the social mandate and are not profit oriented. If we push it further, then they will become profit motivated and that itself will destroy the very mandate of social orientation,” Lyonpo highlighted. The three SOEs are Bhutan Broadcasting Corporation Limited (BBSCL), Bhutan Livestock Development Corporation (BLDC), and Farm Machinery Corporation Limited (FMCL).

“Their performance will be gauged annually by the finance ministry and the respective boards to ensure that they are self-sustaining. However, we reminded them of their mandate in accordance with the public finance act 2007,” he said. Lyonpo reiterated there will be performance based incentives for those performing well. Additional perks and benefits will be monitored and evaluated by the respective boards of the SOEs as well.

The performance based variable incentives (PBVI) will be capped at a maximum of 25 percent of the basic pay which is at par to the DHI owned SOEs. Based on the performance, the board will assess and accord the incentives.

Prime Minister Dasho (Dr) Lotay Tshering added that everything will come to fruition in the Cabinet by the end of this month. ‘We still have around three days to approach October 30 by which time the government should dissolve. We will finalize everything by then,” Lyonchhoen added.

Tashi Namgyal from Thimphu