The deliberation on the pay revision bill at the National Assembly saw more discussions on the need to revise allowances than the salary.
Four of the five recommendations made were on allowances.
Chairperson of the economics and finance committee, Athang-Thedtsho MP Kinley Wangchuk submitted the five-point recommendations on the Pay Revision Bill to the House on June 10.
The recommendation to remove special responsibility allowance (SRA) for the heads and members of constitutional offices were approved. SRA was proposed for the four constitutional offices. An allowance of Nu 13,000 per month for the head and Nu 7000 for commissioners was to be introduced as lump sum.
The house did not approve the addition of a new section of professional service allowance for national assembly and national council secretariat but approved an overtime session allowance (OSA) during parliament session of Nu 15,000 for individual committee staff and Nu 5,000 for general staff. Besides, OSA of Nu 15,000 will be provided to the staff of Department of National Budget during the budget session of the national assembly.
The daily allowance rate of MP remained unchanged according to the Parliamentary Entitlements Rules and Regulations 2018.
From the 30 kinds of allowances in the pay revision report, MPs lobbied for uniform allowance for all technicians. The National Assembly approved the allowance only for those civil servants who are mandated to wear uniforms. Night duty allowance for ambulance driver, ward boys, and nurses who work 12 hours at night would be paid based on their working hours.
However, those who work overnight such as immigration officials would get overtime allowance instead of night duty allowance. An allowance of Nu 500 a night was approved for health professionals attending night duty for 12 hours given the routine schedule that is required for continuous patient care.
Amid teachers benefiting the most in allowances, a request for extra allowance to teachers in boarding schools was denied.
Members questioned why no allowances for Early Childhood Care and Development (ECCD) teachers, warden, matrons, sports coaches, supporting staff, and health care professions such as nurses, technicians, pharmacists, X-ray technicians and dzongkhag health assistants (HA) were proposed.
Prime Minister Dr Lotay Tshering clarified that these professions were included in the teaching and night duty allowance.
Pangbang MP Dorji Wangdi also raised the need for housing allowance for BBS employees given their status as a public service entity (non-commercial). Finance minister Namgay Tshering said as a state owned corporation, the authority to pay such allowances is with BBSC’s board.
Lyonpo said that all civil servants are important and deserve equal allowance should there be enough in the coffer. “But the source of revenue is limited.”
In response MP, Dorji Wangdi asked why then was the allowances paid for selective professions especially if there was no enough funds.
Opposition leader, Pema Gyamtsho (PhD) said that the deliberation was more of allowance revision than pay revision. “Many eligible civil servants are not included for the allowance. The revision is biased.”
All 65 sections were thoroughly debated and discussed over two days. The reviewed bill was adopted with votes, where 37 voted Yes, two voted No and five abstained. The bill will be forwarded to the National Council for recommendation.