Employees at the Royal Bhutan Embassy in New Delhi, India, who receive one of the lowest benefits, would see a substantial raise in entitlements should the government implement the fourth Pay Commission’s recommendations.
The commission recommended revising the foreign allowance and representational grant for the employees of the embassy in Delhi, the oldest embassy, by 100 percent.
The recommendations were made with considerations over other embassies to raise the profile of the embassy so as to attract the best diplomats to serve in New Delhi, considering the extreme importance attached to Bhutan’s relations with the Government of India.
The second pay commission in 2014 recommended similar revisions to allowances and other benefits, however, they were not implemented.
The commission proposed revision of those entitlements for foreign service personnel serving abroad which were not revised since 2002. Those allowances revised in 2014 remains the same.
The commission recommended the revision of the Foreign Service allowances and extension of the representational grant to the Liaison and Transit Office in Kolkata, India.
The commission also recommended replacing local recruits with Bhutanese to create more job opportunities and repartite the revenue.
The commission recommends the following Foreign Service allowances to be maintained at the existing level: mileage, overtime allowance, medical coverage and insurance, lump sum allowance for carriage of personal effects, leave travel passage from and to the headquarter in Bhutan, furnishing grant, domestic help, and utility expense.
The overtime allowance is maintained at status quo for all locations except for Bangkok which is recommedned to be revised from Baht 65 per hour to Baht 100.
The rental ceiling is recommended to be revised by 10 percent for embassies, missions, or consulates in all locations except for the Embassy in Dhaka where it shall be increased by 47 percent. The commission also recommends buying residential properties for the embassies, missions or consulates in terms of saving cost in the long run.
The pay commission report would be tabled in the summer session of the Parliament.
Monetisation of laptops not recommended
The Pay Commission recommended the government to procure standard laptops and to allot to the employees but with terms and conditions.
The Commission came up with several terms and condition, which includes standardised laptops based on agency’s system or software requirement, allot laptops to public servants for a period of five years, recorded in the service book and updated in the inventory.
The condition also includes office to be responsible for all security features and access to the systems until the employee leaves the agency and replace the laptop after five years. “The employee shall be personally liable for any loss/theft/damage/maintenance and retain the laptop after five years.”
Although the Commission reviewed the proposal for monetisation of laptop, through consultation with various stakeholders and experts on its benefits, it found that it could lead to import of inferior quality and compromise the effective functioning of public servants.
However, it noted that monetisation would reduce administrative burden and ease the procurement process.
Today, a laptop or a desktop computer is provided when a public servant joins office at least at a professional level. The ceiling for the purchase of laptops with standard specifications has been set at Nu 40,000.
Agencies have been authorised to procure laptops with high specification for specialised functions.
Tshering Palden and Yangchen C Rinzin