PDP issues 11-point suggestion on pay revision

Government not having followed parliamentary procedures by tabling the Pay Commission recommendations to the Parliament as a Money Bill among PDP’s 11-point suggestion

As the government has presently tabled the Pay Revision Bill of Bhutan 2019 in the National Assembly, the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) has come out with their 11-point alternative views and comments yesterday which it wants the parliamentarians to consider.

Commending the Lhengye Zhungtshog for introducing its first pay revision and thanking the government for taking note of PDP’s request to enhance the teaching allowance for teachers, who work under difficult conditions and to make teaching an attractive profession, PDP has asked the MPs in both the Houses to support this.

In the press release issued by the party yesterday, it also raised concern on the salaries of O1-level and below public officials (that includes NFE instructors and Chiwog Tshogpas).

According to PDP, the ruling party had pledged a minimum daily wage of Nu 450 per day during the election that translates to a monthly minimum salary of Nu 13,500. Despite the increase, the salaries of O1-level and below public officials are still below the minimum wage.

PDP also thanked the government for considering their request to give pay raise to elected Local Government officials who were left out of the Pay Commission’s recommendations citing the pay raise for them in 2017.

However, PDP mentioned that they are not given house rent allowances like other public officials. Accordingly, the PDP has strongly urged the MPs to support house rent allowance for them like other public officials.

PDP stated that it is also grateful to the government for generously raising well-deserved allowances for clinical professionals.

“They all work hard and we fully support that. We are, however, concerned that other categories of civil servants – for example, ambulance drivers, engineers, BAFRA field staff, field surveyors, municipal officials and field officials in Trade, Customs, civil aviation, etc., who may have been left out,” states the press release.

And on Druk Nyamrup Tshogpa’s pledge to provide uniform DA across all ranks in the civil service leaving aside the executive ranks, PDP sates that while an increase of Nu500 has been provided for the executive and P-level officials, the increase for S-level officials is only Nu. 250.

“Since DA is to meet the expenditure for lodge and meals, the Government could have approved uniform DA for all officials as per their campaign promise,” PDP reasoned.

Further, PDP maintained that the Pay Revision Bill of Bhutan and Pay Commission Report consistently mention the existing domestic help/maid for the PM and ministerial rank officials, and has approved allowances for maids at par with ESP. Therefore, PDP added that they would like to once again correct the fact that although there was such a practice during the first Government, the 2nd Government after careful review had done away with such facilities “until economy improves”.

And although the Pay Commission did not recommend any increase in discretionary allowance of the MPs, PDP states that they learnt about the government having had approved an enhanced discretionary allowance of Nu 150,000 per year.

“A thorough justification may be required for the increase,” states the press release.

PDP also thanked the government for noting their recommendation by not increasing the red scarf allowance to Nu 10,000 per month. “This certainly ensures that the Royal honour is not monetised and would not undermine that unique honour,” states the press release.

On the Daily Allowance (when both food and lodge is arranged), the government proposed increase is from 20% to 50%. However, the government has also approved 100% DA claim when accompanying the PM, Ministers and the equivalent positions during in-country travels.

However, PDP asked whether this meant that officials will be asked to arrange their own food and lodge and if not this 100% DA should be applied to all public officials when both food and lodge are provided.

“There is confusion when “DA rates shall be revised for public servants accompanying the PM, Cabinet minister and equivalent positions to 50% while travelling outside the country”. Does this mean that the PM, Cabinet ministers and equivalent positions would claim DSA on actual basis when travelling abroad? Otherwise, the accompanying officials should be allowed to claim 100% DSA,” states the press release.

And on DNT’s pledged to give vehicle quota to all citizens and increase Nu 8 lakhs quota ceiling to Nu 15 lakhs, PDP maintained that the government did not seem to have worked on it while allowing PM, Cabinet ministers and equivalent positions, and MPs to monetise at Nu 15 lakhs while all others monetise at Nu 2.5 lakhs.

Finally, PDP alleged that the government has not followed parliamentary procedures by tabling the Pay Commission recommendations to the Parliament as a Money Bill.

“While this has allowed the Government to seek public views and pander to populist demands, it has compromised the integrity and sanctity of a Money Bill as envisioned by our constitution. The procedure requires a Money Bill to be made public only on the day Finance Minister tables in the National Assembly. This is to prevent a Money Bill pandering to populist moves,” states the party.

Meanwhile, PDP maintained that they are offering their comments and suggestions as the oldest political party in the Kingdom of Bhutan and that they take their sacred responsibility to provide alternative policies and constructive criticisms to the government seriously.

Tshering from Thimphu