KP Sharma

Despite the clarification from the finance ministry on the recent pay revision, civil servants pursuing in-country long-term training (LTT) claim that the revision is unfair to them and it failed to achieve the intended objective of the pay revision.

They argue that the exclusion of those civil servants on LTT from the revision has created a huge gap among the civil servants.

A teacher said, for instance, a teacher in position level-3 on LTT receives basic pay of Nu 28, 315, an additional Nu 2, 832 as house rent allowance (50 percent), and Nu 1,250 as leave travel concession (LTC). With a stipend of Nu 8,000, the same teacher receives a net pay of Nu 35, 104 monthly after deductions.

Conversely, a teacher in the same position who is actively teaching receives a net pay of Nu 57, 863, including teaching allowance. They are also entitled to Nu 14,160 as a lump sum, Nu 1,416 as one-off 5 percent indexation, and Nu 1,000 as one-off fixed payment.

“There is a disparity of Nu 22, 759 between the teachers on LTT and on active teaching at the same grade level. We feel that we are unfairly treated,” a teacher said, adding that the civil servants on LTT should be eligible to the same pay revision as other civil servants.

The Bhutan Civil Service Rules (BCSR) 2018 states that the period of study leave for LTT should be considered part of active service, making them eligible for the pay revision just like any other civil servants.

They further argued that the salary indexation provided for all civil servants should also apply to those on LTT.

The finance ministry on August 16 clarified through a notification that as per BCSR 2018, civil servants on LTT are eligible to basic pay, and house rent allowance and LTC only. “Since there is no revision in the basic pay and house rent, the entitlements for these civil servants on LTT should remain unchanged. They should receive monthly prorated LTC as per their levels.”

However, the civil servants on LTT said that the justification provided is illogical.

“The civil servants are enjoying a pay hike with increased allowance in other forms despite no revision in basic pay and house rent allowance,” a civil servant said.

Civil servants on LTT said that the wider pay disparity might deter future participation in such programmes.

For instance, a teacher at P3/SS2 level had to sacrifice a minimum of Nu 22,759 from their current salary following the revision, in addition to their regular teaching allowance and 50 percent house rent allowance.

The absence of 55 percent pay rise is seen to affect the quality of civil servants as it places them on disadvantage when undergoing qualification upgradations and may lead to a rise in attrition rate, according to the civil servants on LTT.

While the pay revision aims to curb attrition by offering substantial raises, it may de-motivate those on LTT, forcing them to leave the profession in the long-run.

They argue that a more inclusive pay revision is necessary to fulfil its objectives and retain highly-skilled professionals.

The teachers undergoing master in education in Samtse and Paro have appealed to the relevant authorities for the consideration.