Pay Commission’s recommendations to be tabled as a report

The Ministry of Finance will present the Pay Commission’s recommendation as a report during the upcoming summer session of the Parliament next week.

The Fourth Pay Commission also recommends presenting the recommendations as a report and not as a Money Bill in the Parliament.

The chief planning officer of the Planning and Policy Department of the finance ministry, Chencho Tshering said as recommended by the Fourth Pay Commission, the government will submit the pay revision report as a report.

“In keeping with relevant Acts, it will be at the discretion of the Speaker of the National Assembly to decide as a report or a Bill,” he said.

National Assembly Speaker Wangchuk Namgyel confirmed that one agenda in the upcoming session will be on the Pay Commission Report according to a letter received from the cabinet during the plenary meeting on agenda setting.

However, the Speaker added that he cannot say anything whether they would discuss it as a report or Bill as of now.

“In fact I don’t know how the cabinet will submit – whether they want to submit as a report or Bill,” said the Speaker. “From the NA side we do not know whether we will accept it as a report or Bill and it will depend on the substance of the report.”

National Assembly Speaker Wangchuk Namgyel said the Members of Parliament must have the privilege to see the substance and accordingly they will decide whether to accept it as a Bill or report.

“I cannot preempt without seeing the substance,” said the Speaker, adding that the mode of discussion will be different between a Bill and report.

However, former speaker Jigme Zangpo said the pay commission’s recommendation should be presented as Money Bill and not as a report in the Parliament.

He said the Pay Commission Report is a recommendation and the report will go to the cabinet and the cabinet will recommend. “The ministry of finance will submit and present to the Parliament. The Money Bill should not be made as publicized.”

He added that during his term as the speaker, the Pay Commission Report was presented as a Money Bill in the Parliament.

According to Article 14 section (2) of the Constitution, there shall be a Consolidated Fund into which shall be deposited all public money not allocated to specific purposes by law and from which expenditure of the State shall be met.

Section 3 states that the public money shall not be drawn from the Consolidated Fund except through appropriation in accordance with the law.

Similarly, according to the Public Finance Act Amendment 2012 Section 46A, a Money or Financial Bill is a Bill which contains only provisions dealing with all or any of the imposition or increase of any tax or abolition, reduction or remission of any existing tax and government spending that is appropriation or payment of moneys out of the Consolidated Fund.

It states that if any question arises whether a bill is a Money Bill or not, the decision of the Speaker thereon shall be final.

The Fourth Pay Commission has recommended on the procedure of tabling the Pay Commission Report and has cited the Constitution under article 30 section (1), (2) and (3).

According to Section 3 of Article 30, the Pay Commission’s recommendations will be implemented only on the approval of the Lhengye Zhungtshog, which implies that the Lhengye Zhungtshog has the full authority to either approve or to reject the recommendations of the Pay Commission.

The Fourth Pay Commission’s recommendation states tabling the report in the Parliament as any revision report rather than a Money Bill.

The Fourth Pay Commission states that the report be tabled in the Parliament for it to set out any conditions or modifications on the submitted recommendations. It is not tabled for imposition, abolition, remission, alteration or regulation of any taxes; or regulation of money borrowed or any guarantee given by the Government; or for the custody and the payment of money into or the appropriation of moneys from Consolidated Fund. The appropriation of moneys from the Consolidated Fund is done through the ‘Budget Appropriation Bill’ which contains the budget for the revision of the pay, allowances and benefits.

According to the Fourth Pay Commission, tabling of the Pay Commission’s report as a Money Bill and enactment as an ‘Act’ leads to two issues that may not be in consonance with the provisions of the Constitution. First, the National Council has no authority on Money Bills but can only provide recommendations that may be approved or rejected by the National Assembly. However, both Houses enjoy equal authority on the Pay Commission Report since Article 30 does not discriminate between the two Houses.

According to Deputy Chairperson of the National Council Jigme Wangchuk, during the times of the two previous governments the Pay Commission Report was presented both as a report and Money Bill in the Parliament.

The Deputy Chairperson said the house prefers Fourth Pay Commission Report as a report rather than a Money Bill and that it should be a report.

He said when it comes as a report in the house the house can deliberate it and make some changes and give recommendations. However, in terms of Money Bill the house can only deliberate and they cannot make any changes since it is in the hand of the Lower House to adopt it.

Dechen Dolkar from Thimphu