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It was a busy night for civil and public servants yesterday, as they were calculating how much they would benefit from the Fourth Pay Commission’s proposed salary revision. To maintain proportionate pay progression based on job responsibility, qualification and skills the pay commission recommended a revision between 14 percent and 29 percent for public servants with higher revision at the lowest position.

PC recommends 14-29% salary raise

It was a busy night for civil and public servants yesterday, as they were calculating how much they would benefit from the Fourth Pay Commission’s proposed salary revision.

To maintain proportionate pay progression based on job responsibility, qualification and skills the pay commission recommended a revision between 14 percent and 29 percent for public servants with higher revision at the lowest position.

Lyonchhen Dr Lotay Tshering said the PC has touched on everything. “More or less, it’s not bad,” he said.

Revision for cabinet and government secretaries are at 14 percent, 15 percent for the EX level, 16 percent for P-level, 18 percent for S-level and 21 percent for O-level.

The Commission recommended a consolidated pay of Nu 7,000 a month to Nu 9,000, an increase of  29 percent for Elementary Support Personnel (ESP), who are categorised as public servants with minimum skills.

With this revision, the consolidated pay of ESP would be converted to a monthly salary with annual increment, provident fund and other allowances, which they were not entitled to.

The salary of General Support Personnel (GSP) is also recommended to be increased from Nu 7,695 to Nu 9,450, an increase of 23 percent. To rationalise the pay structure, the commission recommended the merger of GSP II and I into a single position.

Ministers and LG

The Pay Commission also reviewed the existing salary of the Prime Minister, cabinet ministers and equivalent post holders including chief justice of Supreme Court, chairperson of Council, Speaker and their deputies, the Opposition Leader and other Parliamentarians. A 14 percent revision is recommended. MP’s pay is maintained at par with government secretaries.

The pay scale of ACC chair, Chief Election Commissioner, Auditor General and RCSC chairperson, while being revised by 14 percent is maintained at par with cabinet secretary, which is more than Nu 10,000 higher than government secretaries.

A 14 percent revision is proposed for drangpons, commissioners and attorney general.

Since the local government functionaries got a 40 percent revision in 2017, except for Thrompons, the commission did not find any rationale to raise the pay scale of other local government officials. Thrompons, however, are recommended a 15 percent revision, mapped at with EX-2 level.

The revision for RAPA and para regular positions, NFE instructors and Gaydrungs are recommended between 16 and 29 percent, the highest being the NFE instructors.

A performance-based allowance is also proposed.

Lyonchhen said that giving a fixed amount as raise didn’t make any sense and is unfair to  those in the lower ranks. “It is very difficult to come up with a formula that is agreeable across the civil service,” he said.

 

Allowances

The recipients of red Kabney, who are currently serving as public servant are entitled to an allowance of Nu 100 a month, which has been in place for over a decade. 

In recognition of the noble service, the PC recommended revising the allowance from Nu 100 to Nu 10,000 a month.

Professional allowances are also allocated to medical and clinical staff, radiology technicians, and health professionals providing critical care in ICU, OT and dialysis, on-call duty doctors, and night-duty personnel.

Allowance for medical and clinical staff was recommended to be revised as lump sum on the new pay scale depending on their position. Those without masters degree, this allowance is based on their number of years in service.

Radiation allowance was proposed to be increased from Nu 1,500 a month to Nu 2,250, an increase of 50 percent. In view of the challenges health professionals are confronted with in providing critical care, the PC also proposed a Nu 2,250 allowance a month.

To compensate doctors for additional work beyond their regular working hours, the PC proposed an introduction of on-call allowance to be determined using the overtime calculation of maximum three hours per day during weekdays and five hours a day during weekends and holidays. The PC also recommended a night duty allowance for health professionals attending night duty beyond 12 hours at Nu 500 a night.

Teaching allowance is proposed to be revised to 20 percent of the revised salary in each position level irrespective of the number of years served. In addition, based on Bhutan Professional Standards for Teachers, the PC recommended 10 percent allowance for proficient teachers, 20 percent for accomplished and 30 percent for distinguished.

A lump sum of Nu 6,700 is proposed for commissioners or members of Constitutional offices as special responsibility allowance. The BCSE trainees are provided a stipend of Nu 1,500 a month. The commission recommended an allowance of Nu 5,000 a month.

House rent allowance (HRA) of 20 percent on the revised pay is recommended for public servants and 30 percent for term-based appointments and MPs. However, this effectively increases the HRA for the cabinet and government secretaries by about 71 percent, while it is less than 21 percent for the rest.

Driver allowance for MPs is recommended to be revised from Nu 6,000 a month to Nu 10,000. In addition, the PC recommended MPs’ fuel and maintenance allowance to be revised from Nu 7,000 to Nu 10,000 a month.

While a status quo on difficulty allowance is proposed to be maintained until the government reviews the status, uniform allowance for medical nurses is proposed to be revised from Nu 4,500 to Nu 5,200.

Domestic helpers for the Prime Minister, Cabinet ministers and equivalent post holders and heads of constitutional post holders are proposed to be paid at par with ESP.

The PC also recommended an increase of daily allowance from 20 percent to 50 percent when both food and lodge are provided for public servant across the board. Otherwise, the daily allowance of Prime Minister, Cabinet ministers and equivalent posts are on an actual basis, maintaining a status quo. For commissioners, MPs, secretaries and other equivalent posts, the proposed revision is actual lodging (maximum of Nu 3,000) and Nu 1,000 or a lump sum DA of Nu 2,000.

In the P-level, the DA is proposed to be revised from Nu 1,000 to Nu 1,500 and for S1 and below the DA is recommended at Nu 1,000, which was earlier Nu 750 and Nu 500 for those below S level.

 

Wow factor?

On the wow factor, Lyonchhen said that as the revision had to cover thousands of people and given the limited resources, the commission recommended performance-based incentives.

“This is the wow factor I had talked about – that those who deserve be paid more,” he said. “This is something to look forward to at the end of the month.” However, Lyonchhen said that the only problem is that the PBI  is based on IWP- which itself is controversial and not clearly understood. “We will discuss on this,” he said. “If there is not a universally accepted formula, to begin with, it might not go well. Their intent is good but implementation could be a challenge.”

Lyonchhen said the good news is that housing allowance, pension and provident fund has gone to the lowest level while travel allowance has been made uniform across the board. Pensions will not be taxed anymore.

 

The PC’s approach

“In order to motivate and retain public servants for efficient and effective public delivery, there is a need to fairly remunerate while also ensuring a decent standard of living,” the Fourth PC report stated.

To cater to the worst-case scenario, the commission assumed that there is only a single income earner in the household to support their families, particularly in the lowest level of ESP.

The Commission examined the mean monthly expenditure from Bhutan Living Standard Survey, 2017, according to which the estimate comes to about Nu 10,574 a month in the bottom quintile with an average of 5.5 household size.

Taking into account 2.7 percent inflation in 2018 and 3.6 percent in the first six months of 2019, mean household expenditure works to Nu 11,246 a month. This is how the minimum monthly salary of Nu 9,040 is arrived at in proposing a revision for the ESP. This is excluding the monthly rental expense of 20 percent of the total expenditure.

The basic need approach was also used to estimate the cost of food items to meet the minimum daily nutritional requirement and other non-food essential expenses to lead a decent living. The level of economic development was also considered to ensure that minimum pay revision is in tandem with per capita income growth.

A minimum pay of Nu 8,975 a month is estimated for a family size of 4.2 to ensure that every civil servant lives above the national poverty line.

Further, the commission recommended linking pay to performance to promote meritocracy in the civil service. “It is found that there is less disposable income for savings… Considering the importance to ensure decent living after retirement, it is important to augment the PF contribution from the government,” the report stated.

To avoid pay revision with every change in government and to maintain real content of salary income, the PC has recommended an annual salary indexation of five percent or actual inflation, whichever is lower. “This approach will smoothen the composition pattern of the public servant, limiting the inflationary pattern in the market,” the report stated.

Tshering Dorji

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