MB Subba

The National Assembly yesterday adopted the Pay Revision (amendment) Bill 2020, which increases the education allowance of children whose parents are posted in South Asian countries from USD 70 to USD 250 per month. This rate will be applicable for children who are studying in Bhutan.

The children education allowance (CEA) was increased to make it equivalent to the rate of such allowances in other South Asian countries.

Chairman of the economic affairs committee, Kinley Wangchuk, said that the CEA was provided to cover the cost of education during foreign posting. The committee stated that the CEA shall compensate for the rising cost of education in the respective countries.

If children studying at the place of posting of their parents, the allowance rate of that place shall apply, according to the Bill.

In some cases, a parent is posted in one country but his or her children are studying in another country. In such a case, the CEA rate of the place of education will be provided.

“For example, if a parent is working in Geneva and children are studying in India, then the New Delhi rate shall be applicable. Similarly, if a parent is working in New Delhi and children are also studying in New Work, then New Delhi rate will be applicable,” Kinley Wangchuk said.

The committee proposed that the CEA shall be provided for up to only three children. But the House removed the recommendation through a show of hands after most members objected to it.

Dramitse Ngatshang MP Ugyen Wangdi said that providing the CEA only to three children would not send a positive message at a time when the fertility rate in the country was dropping.

The House adopted the Amendment Bill with 44 Yes votes and two out of 46 members abstained.

The new rate will be applicable retroactively from July 1, 2019, according to the Bill. The Bill will be deliberated during the ongoing session by the National Council, whose resolutions are, however, not binding on the amendment Bill.

The House also decided to rename the driver’s allowance and the fuel allowance for MPs as discretionary grants.

The driver’s discretionary grant was increased from Nu 6,000 to Nu 10,000, while the fuel allowance was increased from Nu 7,000 to Nu 10,000 on the recommendation of the Pay Commission.

The Pay Revision Act 2020 had upgrade dzongdags’ duty vehicle from SUV with FWD of up to 2,500 CC to SUV with FWD up to 2,800 CC. The House removed this provision in the Pay Commission Act, which means that dzongdags will have to settle with SUV with FWD of up to 2,500 CC as before.

Finance Minister Namgay Tshering expressed hope that the amendment Bill would be implemented successfully.