… Discontinuing all communication allowance could save the govt. Nu 2M annually

Thukten Zangpo 

The National Assembly members yesterday supported discontinuing communication allowances (CA) paid to parliamentarians and heads of constitutional offices when deliberating the Pay Structure Reform Bill 2022.

The house unanimously decided to omit Sections 16 and 17 of the Bill.

As per Section 16 of the Bill, the Prime Minister is entitled to a CA on the actual expenses incurred per month.

The CA for dzongrab, dungpa, drangpon rabjam is Nu 500 per month. The principal secretary, communication specialist, personal secretary, and personal assistant of the Prime Minister are entitled to Nu 1,500 per month.

Personal secretary, personal assistant of the Cabinet Ministers and equivalent positions allowed for CA of Nu 1,000 per month.

Section 17 of the Bill entitles prime minister, Cabinet ministers,chairperson of the National Council, speaker of the National Assembly, opposition leader, heads of constitutional offices and the attorney general (residing at Lhengye Densa), internet allowance based on the actual expenses.

The section also includes the chief justice of the Supreme Court and the chairperson of the Privy Council, a communication allowance of Nu 7,750 inclusive of internet data charges of Nu 2,750 at the residence.

However, Prime Minister Dr Lotay Tshering had submitted to the House to discontinue all CA and internet data charges. He said whether these allowances go for the intended purpose or not.

Based on Section 16, the Economic and Finance Committee’s chairperson and MP of Gangzur-Minjey, Kinga Penjor, also proposed to remove all CA including other public servants after Lyonchhen made the submission.

However, Speaker Wangchuk Namgyel sought the members’ votes only on Sections 16 and 17.

If the House has supported the proposal, CA ranging from as low as Nu 100 per month paid to thromde thuemi to Nu 5,000 per month to ministers could be discontinued.

Ministers, chairperson of the National Council, speaker of the National Assembly or opposition leader are entitled to a communication allowance of Nu 5,000 per month.

Heads of constitutional offices, attorney general, drangpons, deputy speaker of NA, NC chairperson and MPs are entitled to Nu 2,000 as CA. Thrompons get Nu 1,000 as CA.

Kinga Penjor said that the discontinuation of CA and internet charges would save the government Nu 2 million annually.

Referring to Singapore’s pay system, Kinga Penjor said that 80 percent of the pay was fixed pay and 20 percent was variable pay. However, Bhutanese’s variable pay ranges from 9 percent to 41 percent as per the Bill, he added.

Kinga Penjor recommended that Bhutan’s pay system be 80 percent as fixed pay in future, which will benefit those who take more post-service benefits. However, currently, he said, the country’s economy is not doing well.

The chairperson of the committee also informed the House that the committee could not study the pay structure reform and its implications on filing tax annually because of the limited time.

The deliberation will continue today.