Thukten Zangpo

The Cabinet will discuss the revision of the wage for the national workforce in its final meeting today, Lyonchhen Dr Lotay Tshering announced in the 51st Meet-the-Press session on October 27.

The National Assembly also dissolves today. However, the Cabinet can continue to function until the appointment of the interim government.

Lyonchhen said that the cabinet’s discussion will be on wage revision for the national workforce, not the national minimum daily wage rate. Otherwise, the revision of the national minimum daily wage rate will have legal implications, he added.

“Since the revision for the national workforce is funded from the government consolidated fund, they are eligible for the raise,” Lyonchhen said.

He did not mention the specific amount of the revision, as that will be decided later in the cabinet meeting. However, Lyonchhen mentioned that the revision will be more than the current rate of Nu 125 daily.

During the 2018 election, the government pledged to increase the national minimum wage rate from Nu 125 per day to Nu 450 per day.

Finance Minister Namgay Tshering also said that the wage revision for the national workforce was not addressed in the last pay revisions. “Currently, it is difficult to hire a worker at Nu 500 daily in the country.”

He said that the national workforce includes individuals working in the construction, repair, and maintenance of roads, lhakhangs, and dzongs.

The government’s decision to revise the wage for the national workforce will not affect the country’s legal system as it is derived from the national minimum daily wage rate.

The national minimum wage was first established in 2011 at Nu 100 daily, which was further revised to Nu 125 daily in 2014.

Currently, the compensatory damages, compensation, penalty amount in lieu of imprisonment, fines and penalty for violations, and offences under the Penal Code of Bhutan (amended) 2011 are based on the current minimum wage rate of Nu 125.

At the same time, fines and penalties as per the Narcotics Drugs, Psychotropic Substances, and Substance Abuse Act of Bhutan 2015 are also based on the minimum wage rate. Only the upward revision of the minimum wage rate will increase the fines and penalties.

Civil servants on LTT

Today’s cabinet meeting will also discuss the pay revision for those civil servants who are undergoing in-country long-term training (LTT).

Earlier, the finance ministry clarified that civil servants under LTT were eligible for only basic pay, house rent allowance, and leave travel concession, as there was no revision on the basic pay.

However, Lyonchhen said that the recent pay revision was on variable pay and not on basic pay because of its future implications on the post-service benefits. “There is a reason for the civil servants on LTT to get the revised pay.”