Phub Dem

Six months after the Pay Revision Act was endorsed, the finance minister introduced the Pay Revision (Amendment) Bill of Bhutan, 2020 in the National Assembly yesterday.

Finance minister Namgay Tshering proposed five amendments.

In the Pay Revision Act, ECCD facilitators noted a downward revision from existing Nu 11,125 to Nu 8,400 in the Act when the revised pay scale of ECCD facilitator was pegged with Non-Formal Education (NFE) instructors.

The ministry’s amendment proposes a revision of ECCD facilitator by 22 percent.

Furthermore, the House Rent Allowance (HRA) for Gyadrung and NFE instructors was proposed to be included in Section 30 (2) of the Act.

The housing allowance for them was included in the schedule, however, it was not mentioned in the section.

The government also proposed to amend Discretionary Allowance in the Act to Discretionary Grant considering the tax imposed on the allowances except for travel and daily allowances.

The finance minister said that many were not happy with the term discretionary allowance and requested to change it to grant.

Section 42 of Foreign Service Entitlement was also proposed for amendment. For children studying inside Bhutan, the Children Education Allowance (CED) was proposed to be USD 70 a month.

Although these children studying within the country were not liable for any allowance before, the government proposed to give them the allowance.

Lyonpo Namgay Tshering said that this reform would help the children to root themselves in the culture and traditions of the country. He said that the rate for the in-country allowance was much lesser than ex-country.

The designated duty vehicle for dzongdag was also proposed to change the SUV with Front-Wheel Drive (FWD) of up to 2500 cylinder capacity (cc) with FWD up to 2800cc. The dzongdags currently have duty vehicles with 2980cc.

However, Panbang’s Member of Parliament said that the proposal for the amendment of pay revision was first of its kind and questioned if it was not breaching the Constitution.

He said that the Pay Revision Committee was time-bound and as per the Constitution the money bill was final after the Bill was passed as an Act.

While some provisions were mere technical errors, he said that the other three provisions should come in as a new bill. “There are more than printing errors in the proposal.”

Prime Minister Dr Lotay Tshering said that the amendment if not deliberated before, doesn’t mean it was against the law.

“Although it has been endorsed, there is some change in the procedure. It is not a new law.”

Drametse Ngatshang’s Member of Parliament Ugyen Wangdi said that the amendment to the Act might become a trend. He said that there would be many who were unsatisfied with the revision. “If it is open to change, everyone will demand change.”

He added that the new provision in the Bill such as Discretionary Grant and CED should come up as a new Bill and not an amendment.

Meanwhile, the NA Speaker Wangchuk Namgyel said that the slip-ups in the Act were the carelessness of both the government and the House.

He said that the House should consider deliberating on the pay of NFE, Gyadrung,  designated duty vehicles for dzongdag and HRA provisions.

On other provisions, he said that it was up to the House to deliberate or not.

The Economic and Finance Committee would present the recommendation on February 10.