National Council (NC) members questioned finance minister on the legality of adding new provisions in the Pay Revision (Amendment) Bill 2020.
Finance Minister Namgay Tshering during the presentation of the Bill said that as per the Pay Revision Act 2019, the parliament could propose clause additions.
Section 65 of Pay Revision Act 2019 states: “The amendment of the Act shall be by the way of addition, variation or repeal effected by Parliament .”
However, the National Assembly recently proposed and adopted the section for amendment.”
NA’s proposal stated that the amendment of the Act shall be effected by Parliament as per the recommendations of the pay revision commission. The amendment, he said, was to address misuse of power and political agenda of the government.
He said that the amendment was required to address the inconsistencies in the annexure and the Act, which was passed by the Parliament six months ago.
The amendments included pay revision of non-formal education (NFE) instructors and early childhood care and development (ECCD facilitators, house rent allowances for elementary service personnel (ESP), NFE instructors and gaydrungs, discretionary grants, designated duty vehicle for dzongdag and CEA for the officials in foreign posting.
NC member from Haa, Ugyen Namgay, said that the change in the children education allowances (CEA) for officials posted in foreign countries was a new provision.
He said that the pay commission recommended cheaper allowance and that the children would be eligible for the allowance only if they stay and study with their parents. “The Act was flexible including different interpretations and increasing the allowance.”
He proposed that those children studying inside the country might not require extra allowance because they were provided with free education and choice of school.
But lyonpo said that the parents would rather take their children outside the country if there was no allowance for those willing to stay within the country. “This reform would help the children to root themselves in the culture and traditions of the country”
NC’s chairperson for social and cultural affairs committee (SCAC), Kesang Chuki Dorjee, said that although there were errors regarding the pay for NFE and ECCD, the government already paid the revised pay. “While they deserved the revised pay, the government should have waited for the amendment to take place first and then pay the revised pay.”
Lyonpo said that accounts officers deposited the pay at par with the S5 level, which was logical. “After receiving many concerns regarding the irregularities, the ministry internally prepared ways to refund if the Parliament rejected the proposal. NA supported the proposal without any hassle.”
Considering the issues of locals levying different porter pony charges, NC member from Thimphu, Tshewang Rinzin, said that there should be a uniform rate for the porters and pony owners. He also asked if the government could include the charges in the amendment Bill.
As per the Act, porter and pony charges shall be lump sum Nu 1, 200 per dholam for the places with no motorable road connectivity.
Lyonpo Namgay Tshering said, the government had already asked the Ministry of Agriculture and Forests to review road connectivity inventory beacuse road connectivity had increased significantly. “Porters should have the right to decide the fares.”
Meanwhile, NC will deliberate the Bill on Monday.