This could save the govt. Nu 37M annually

Thukten Zangpo

The National Assembly (NA) yesterday did away with the communication allowance (CA), including internet data charges for “eligible civil servants (CS) and public servants (PS)”.

Since the Bill is a money bill, NA can either support or reject the NC’s recommendations.

NA’s Economic and Finance Committee’s chairperson and MP for Gangzur-Minjey, Kinga Penjor, said that doing away with CA “would save the government Nu 37 million (M) annually which is adequate to construct a bridge.”

This means the prime minister henceforth will not be entitled to internet data charges on actual expenses. Similarly, ministers, chairperson of the NC, speaker of the NA, and opposition leader too would not be entitled for CA of Nu 5,000 per month and internet data charges on actual expenses.

Heads of constitutional offices, attorney general, drangpons, deputy speaker of NA, NC deputy chairperson and MPs will also be deprived of CA of Nu 2,000 per month.

Monthly Nu 500 CA for dzongrab, drungpa, drangpon rabjam will be discontinued.

This also applies to the principal secretary, communication specialist, personal secretary, and personal assistant of the prime minister who were entitled to Nu 1,500 per month.

The personal secretary and personal assistant of the cabinet ministers and equivalent positions getting monthly allowance of Nu 1,000 will henceforth not get this allowance.

Thrompon’s monthly allowance of Nu 1,000, Nu 200 for tshogpa and Nu 100 thromde thuemi will also be discontinued.

The cabinet and government secretaries will not be eligible for Nu 2,000 CA. Civil servants in position level of EX-3 and above, will also not get Nu 1,000 monthly allowance.

Designated Vehicles for MPs

NA supported NC’s recommendation which states: “Each member of Parliament shall be provided a designated duty vehicle, or a one-time lump sum grant for the purchase of the vehicle along with a driver and fuel and maintenance allowances.”

This means MP elected from 2023 elections will get 2,800cc SUV vehicle or Nu 20,000 allowance per month for the driver, fuel, and maintenance with a lumpsum Nu 1M vehicle purchase allowance.

The Houses also decided to maintain the designated duty vehicle as existing level to position level EX-3 and above until reviewed and rationalised by the government.

Prime Minister Dr Lotay Tshering said that the government is providing designated vehicles to the MPs as entitlement like other civil servants in executive positions, not that because MPs must have it. “Positionally, MPs are equivalent to the government secretaries.”

Lyonchhen said that the finance ministry would review who are eligible for the designated vehicle. “There is still room to review and rationalise.”

Other allowances

The NA supported the NC’s recommendation to provide professional allowance for nurses and clinical Staff (including menpas), a lumpsum amount of 35 percent (0 to 10 years), 45 percent (above 10 to 20 years) and to 55 percent (above 20 years) of the minimum pay scale.

The House supported teaching allowance of 35 percent for teachers in service up to 10 years, 45 percent for above 10 years but less than 20 years, and 55 percent for above 20 year on the minimum pay scale.

Similarly, the House supported professional allowance for aviation staff – 25 percent (6 to 10 years), 35 percent (above 10 to 15 years) and to 45 percent (above 15 years) of the minimum pay scale.

The NA also retained Nu 2,500 per month overtime session allowance for staff under legislative and procedural division stationed in the secretariats of Parliament, Nu 833 per month for general staff stationed in Parliament, and Nu 1,250 per month for staff under Ministry of Finance engaged in preparation and formulation of the annual budget. The draft bill had proposed to do away with this allowance.

The radiation allowance will be eligible up to Nu 3,000 per month and will be determined by the Ministry of Finance in consultation with the Ministry of Health and the Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock.

A public servant would get 20 percent daily allowance (DA) when both food and lodge are provided for meetings, seminars, trainings and workshops.

Similarly, a public servant accompanying the prime minister, chief justice, cabinet ministers and equivalent positions will be eligible for a DA of 20 percent when food and lodge are provided. If only food or lodge is provided, a public servant will get 50 percent DA.

However, a minimum travel distance has to be maintained at 10 kilometres for the purpose of DA or travel allowance eligibility.

The Bill will be submitted to His Majesty The Druk Gyalpo for Royal Assent.