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The pay revision and the lessons

It is final. The pay revision promised is now on its way. The revision will come into effect from July even if the excitement is fast on the wane.

The National Council scrutinised the proposal that was submitted as a money Bill, made recommendations and pointed out lapses. The Assembly accepted most recommendations.

A highlight of the change in the final revision is that the proposed salary revision of the National Assembly Speaker and the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court are brought back to the initially proposed 6 percent and not 12 percent, as endorsed by the Assembly.

When the July salary is released, there will be a happy and a not so happy group. A bulk of civil servants in the lower P and S category feel they are the least benefited group from the current raise.

The discussion will go on, like in the past because no revision is fair.

Besides who wins or loses, the deliberations on the pay revision, which dominated discussions, brought out a lot of issues.

This started with the debate on the nomenclature of the proposal. It was followed by violating- knowingly or unknowingly- provisions of the Parliamentary Entitlement Act in revising salaries of some. The blunders made in the Assembly raise concerns of decision-making process in the legislature.

Whether we call it ingenuity or good homework, all the Council did was pointed out the Repeal section, which initially stated that the pay revision Bill repeals any provision of Acts, notifications, circulars, rules and regulations on pay revision that are inconsistent with the provision of the Bill.   Repealing the provisions of other Acts was in conflict with the intent and purpose of having entitlement Acts for various institutions. The Council noting this prevented the different hikes for positions specified in the entitlement Act.

There are now questions being asked if these were innocent oversights or deliberate. Some are wondering if seasoned members are influencing or misleading others or if researches are going into making meaningful decisions. Then there are others who doubt if the experienced opposition members, at least in terms of years, are keeping quiet to rejoice in the mistakes, the ruling government make. Words are going around that some opposition members knew the implication of raising the salary of the Speaker and the Chief Justice and not that of the Chairperson.

There are questions because beyond the salary deliberations were other issues that the Council is now questioning. Despite the Prime Minster’s concern of contravening other laws, the Assembly went ahead with the decision to review budget proposals of the state-owned enterprises (SOEs).

There is disagreement on recommendations made by committees, in this case, the economic and finance committee. The finance and prime minister did not agree with the recommendations. The Speaker cast the deciding vote in favour of the recommendations.

The Companies Act and the Public Finance Act govern SOEs, while a Royal Charter governs those under the Druk Holding and Investment. This issue will be re-deliberated.

In the end, it is not who is objecting or supporting. The Council is not the opposition, but when compelled to intervene, it will.

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