(Question Hour in NA) June 13, 2023
Responding to questions from the National assembly (NA) Member of Parliament (MP) Karma Lhamo from Monggar Constituency, on issues pertaining to the civil service like high attrition rate of civil servants in the country and others, the Prime Minister (PM) Dr. Lotay Tshering unveiled several plans and discussions aimed at tackling the issue.
One of the key measures proposed is the transition of the Royal Civil Service Commission (RCSC) Examination from an annual event to a biannual occurrence. The Prime Minister stated that the government, in collaboration with the RCSC, is considering increasing the frequency of examinations from once a year to twice a year.
“This adjustment aims to provide more opportunities to graduates in a timely manner,” the PM said. .
The PM also acknowledged that financial incentives play a significant role in the attrition rate.
“While money is not the sole factor contributing to civil servant resignations, it is a crucial element. Therefore, the revision of the retirement fund, along with the National Pension and Provident Fund (NPPF), is under review. The government aims to explore strategies to improve these benefits in order to retain civil servants,” the PM added.
Meanwhile MP Karma Lhamo said that in 2020, approximately 1,200 civil servants resigned, followed by 1,700 in 2021, and 2,000 in 2022. Alarmingly, in just five months of 2023, the number of resignations has already reached 2,600.
Additionally, the PM shared plans to establish retirement homes for civil servants, providing them with a place to stay after retirement. The aim is to create an attractive package that would encourage civil servants to remain in Bhutan, and ensure that the conditions here are not worse than elsewhere, if not better.
Acknowledging the severity of the attrition issue, the Prime Minister emphasized that the government has already taken certain steps to retain civil servants. These include increasing the retirement age from 57 to 60 and eliminating the limit on the number of RCSC exams graduates can apply for. The latter change provides more opportunities for aspiring civil servants to enter the system.
In addition, the Prime Minister highlighted a concerning trend in the field of medicine.
“Previously, there were around 50 candidates vying for 40 seats in the pursuit of master’s scholarships in the medical field. However, there has been a significant decline, with only approximately eight candidates expressing interest in such scholarships. This decline signals a potential shortage of medical experts in the coming years,” said the PM.
As the government strives to address the rising attrition rate among civil servants, these measures and discussions are expected to provide better prospects, improved retirement benefits, and increased opportunities for graduates.
Tshering Pelden from Thimphu