Legislation on pay commission’s standard operating procedure proposed 

The Pay Commission must maintain its autonomy and stand away from the undue political motives.

This was the highlight of discussion in the National Council yesterday as the deliberation on the commission happened.

While the Constitution grants autonomy to the Pay Commission, it shall be constituted on the recommendation of the Prime Minister.

It is also a Constitutional mandate of the Pay Commission to recommend the revisions in the structure of the salary, allowances, benefits, and other emoluments of the civil servants, judiciary, the members of Parliament and local governments, the holders and the members of constitutional offices, and all other public servants with due regard to the economy.

The third Pay Commission’s report highlighted that increasing public debt and lower realisation of domestic revenue due to delay in commissioning of hydropower projects limits the fiscal space to accommodate major recurrent expenditure.

The Trongsa Council representative, Tharchen, said that the financing of LG pay hike is linked to the projected additional revenue from Chhukha.

“It seems that the economy is not doing well,” he said. “Yet it is not clear as to why the pay revision is being considered only for the LG at this time?”

He asked whether the pay commission was driven by political agenda.

In support, the Gasa representative, Sangay Khandu, said that given the Constitutional mandate, it is unclear as to what extent the commission enjoys autonomy.

“It is even not clear as to how many times the commission shall be constituted and when?” he asked.

Based on experience from the two governments, he said it is an opportunity to draft a legislation prescribing how many times and when can a pay commission be formed during a single tenure of the government.

Members were of the view that ruling governments in future may use this prerogative to accommodate their political agenda.

In drafting such legislation, Sangay Khandu added, that there is also an opportunity to lower the compression ratio, which is the ratio between the highest and the lowest salary. This is one of the factors contributing to income inequalities.

The Constitution also states that the recommendations of the pay commission shall be implemented only on the approval of the Lhengye Zhungtshog and subject to such conditions and modifications as may be made by Parliament.

The pay commission shot down the proposal to revise Foreign Service entitlements and revision of pay and allowances of civil service in general service personnel (GSP) and elementary support personnel (ESP) category.

It has justified that such revision should be carried out holistically along with the revision in entire civil service, which is not financially viable currently. Further, the revision in Foreign Service entitlements, the pay commission’s report stated, would result in disparity within the civil service.

The house decided to include this discussion in its miscellaneous agenda to be discussed later.

Meanwhile, NC proposed six recommendations on various issues related to Pay Commission’s report, including housing allowance for the Thrompons, mileage for LG members, communication allowance for Tshogpa and earned leave, amongst others.

The House directed the Economic Affairs Committee to re-visit on the recommendations for adoption today.

Tshering Dorji