Difficulty allowance under review

Development activities over the years has transformed rural places and are not remote anymore 

Incentive: Civil servants entitled to difficulty allowance would have lost or gained with the finance ministry still reviewing the newly worked out dholam (walking distance from nearest motorable road) the home ministry submitted.

During the last pay revision, about a year ago, it decided that high altitude and difficulty allowances be paid after the home ministry determines high altitude and difficult areas.

The rationale, according to the second pay commission was that rural areas in the country have developed rapidly in recent years, and most places that were once considered remote now have access to basic facilities like telecommunication, electricity, roads, health and education.

Difficulty area allowance is usually paid taking the dholam as a yardstick. Dholam is the walking distance in remote areas including porter and pony charges.

Earlier, officials receive Nu 2,000 a month for the first dholam  from the nearest motorable road and Nu 500 for every additional dholam with a maximum ceiling of Nu 5,000 a month.

To attract and motivate civil servants posted to remote areas, the difficulty allowance was revised to Nu 2,000 for each dholam and a maximum ceiling of Nu 10,000 a month.

Until now the difficulty allowance has been paid as per the revised amount and existing dholam.

Home secretary, Dasho (Dr) Sonam Tenzin said the issue needs serious discussion because some places, which were earlier, considered remote now has road and basic amenities. But, he said there are also some places where road exists but no vehicle ply and roads get washed away quite often.

After compiling the dholams, finance ministry officials said the report would be presented to a high-level committee for the final decision. The new dholam has been identified based on pliable and nearest motorable road including farm roads. Officials would be entitled to mileage claims in places where new roads were built.

The financial implications, officials said would be known only after compilation of the reports.

Meanwhile, the pay commission recommended hardship allowances for places where civil servants face great difficulty even if they are not considered remote. This referred to civil servants working with the Royal Manas National Park.

In such specific situations, the commission recommended that the finance ministry be empowered to extend, on a case-by-case basis, hardship allowances, as it deems reasonable.

Meanwhile, civil servants working at places above 10,000 ft had been receiving Nu 1,000-2,000 a month. This again was revised to Nu 3,000 for places above 12,000ft and Nu 2,000 for places between 10,000ft and 12,000ft.

The commission has identified 16 villages in six dzongkhags of Gasa, Bumthang, Wangdiphodrang, Bumthang, Trashigang and Thimphu between altitude of 10,000 to 12,000ft and eight villages in Gasa and Thimphu above 12,000ft.

By Tshering Dorji

1 reply
  1. Taflay
    Taflay says:

    Difficulty Allowance under Review- A New Hope

    It is very high time that a rational redefinition of remote and difficult area is must for wiser revision of allowances. The way Kuensel reports on development of this specific issue looks open for rationality and a new hope to our fellow servants in different remote villages across Bhutan.

    Almost all the villages have been connected by roads, electricity grid and have access to basic facilities importantly health centres but the question is; are these facilities adequate to form basis to qualify villages to be an urban centre. This is one simple question our decision-makers will have to answer in order for them to do justice to our fellow servants. No one would deny the fact that the situations in Gewogs and villages have improved over the year. But let us ask ourselves; how many of us in the urban centres would love to receive an office order transferring us to districts and Gewogs, if basic facilities (such as telecommunication, electricity, roads, health and education) graduate villages from remoteness.

    Why would not we want to serve in rural areas if these facilities are at all adequate to compete with urban centres? Because, we would be required to take approved leave from office in case situation necessitates us (please include family members) to visit a hospital- health facilities in remote areas are limited to Basic Health Units. We have good cellular network coverage all over Bhutan but how many Gewogs have access to reliable Internet services? What percentage of road is pliable? When we in urban centres drive our cars along comparatively good road, cars of our fellow servants in rural areas have to withstand bumpy harsh farm roads. Facilities in rural areas as acknowledge being “basic” are really a “basic”. Thus, one can imagine how meaningful would it be to have a rational redefinition and revision of the incentives.

    Say, you are posted to one of the Gewogs or Dzongkhags in any of the region beyond Thimphu and that you are required to travel to Thimphu for some specific purposes such as siting for IELTS, processing legal and medical documents (as simple as medical examination) in case you are applying for a visa. As easy as it seems for the people like us in Thimphu, it is as hard for our fellow servants in remote Gewogs and District. One will have to take leave for weeks, incur expenses and waste time and energy traveling all the way to Thimphu. So, the question is; did the road and the electricity take these services to rural Bhutan? This is why; our fellow servants acknowledge incentives as part of the motivation.

    We can only hope for a wiser and rational decision, if at all, the revision is meant for motivation.

Leave a Reply

Want to join the discussion?
Feel free to contribute!

Leave a Reply