Wangdue: The National Assembly Wednesday resolved that Finance Ministry should review whether wage rates for carpenters and masons should be increased between Nu 500 and Nu 600.

Nyishog Saephu MP Kuenga submitted the petition from Wangdue dzongkhag to house that due to increase in wage rate for carpenters and masons in some communities, it has affected developmental activities, especially during restoration of cultural and heritage sites like dzongs.

“There is severe shortage of carpenters and masons. And there is a need to increase wage rate for carpenters and masons between Nu 500 and Nu 600,” said Kuenga.

Panbang MP Dorji Wangdi said: “This will have implication nationwide…what we must understand is that there is something called National Minimum Wage and wage rate for National Workforc. When we say minimum rate, it means we cannot pay an individual less than what is due to him according to national regulation.”

Dorji Wangdi suggested that the best way would be to revise the wage rate for National Workforce. “It’s about time.”

The real question is not about whether wage rates for carpenters and masons must be increased; it is about whether we have enough carpenters and masons, said works and human settlement minister, Dorji Choden. “If we have enough skilled carpenters and masons, we will not have to pay them high. But if the case is otherwise, whatever rates we decide on will not be enough.”

Bardo Trong MP Lekey Dorji said: “It would be wise to study the matter before increasing the wage rate straight between Nu 500 and Nu 600.”

Finance Minister Namgay Dorji informed the house that the government is in the process of reviewing the wage rate. “There has also been about 30 percent rise in inflation in 2015 and salary rise for civil servants. This is an issue that cannot sort out straight away…there must be a permanent solution.”

While the problem could be serious in the gewogs and villages, Wamrong MP Karma Tenzin, said that it is important to consider whether the problem is permanent or temporary. “We could allow a rise in wage rates if it is a temporary solution. Implications could be far-reaching.”

By Jigme Wangchuk