The recent civil service reform is making headlines after a group of in-service civil servants shared their dissatisfaction and even approached the Prime Minister with their grievances. The Royal Civil Service Commission (RCSC) justified the reform to build a professional, apolitical and meritocratic civil service.

Regular civil service reforms are necessary to fine-tune the system and keep it relevant to changing times and environment. But reforms, as always, are accompanied by challenges mostly during their implementations as some people are affected in the process and become disgruntled.

Historically, it must have been quite a challenge for the RCSC when it was established in 1982, centralising all the HR actions and applying uniform rules and regulations across all agencies that were functioning independently. Then the Cadre System in 1989 was followed by the Position Classification System (PCS) in 2006 which had its own share of challenges. Further, with the coming of the Constitution in 2008 and enactment of the Civil Service Act in 2010, the system needed alignment to the legal provisions.

We appreciate RCSC’s current reform to address stagnation faced by the majority of civil servants in the Supervisory & Support (S&S) position category. Now, for those reaching the S1 position level, the highest in the SS position category, can move up to SS1, which is four position levels higher than the current, and this translates to 20 more years of service beyond the current stagnation. For example, a diploma holder entering the civil service at S2, with regular promotions, now has more than 30 years of service without stagnation.

This will highly motivate some 11,248 civil servants belonging to the S&S category.

Otherwise, for vertical movement beyond the S1 position level, one has to come through the Bhutan Civil Service Examination (BCSE) to get into the Professional & Management position category as section 47 of the Civil Service Act of Bhutan 2010 specifies: “The Commission shall recruit university graduates through competitive examinations conducted in accordance with the procedures laid down in the BCSR for initial appointments to Professional and Management positions in Civil Service.”

However, the RCSC must hear and try to resolve the individual grievances of those affected by the reform wherever possible but not at the cost of the reform. This reform will address the stagnation issues accrued from the past reforms.

For reforms, we can ascertain wisdom and guidance from what our Fourth Druk Gyalpo said: “A good system of government that is not dependent on any individual or personalities, a system that will function efficiently because of its in-built merits, that is a legacy we must create for our future generations.”