One of the first significant decisions the government took since assuming office on November 7 was the to form the pay commission at the earliest, its spokesperson and Foreign Minister Dr Tandi Dorji said.

“The main thing to begin with is to draft the terms of reference (ToR) for the members of the pay commission,” he said. The Cabinet instructed the finance ministry to draft the ToR.

Once the finance ministry presents it to the Cabinet and on approval, Lyonpo said that the government would appoint the commission members.

His party, the Druk Nyamrup Tshogpa has pledged to institute the fourth pay commission to revise civil servants’ salaries and allowances within the first 120 days of its term.

The party’s manifesto stated that the cost of living is increasing every year making it difficult – especially for those in the lower and middle income groups – to meet expenses for house rent, buying essential food items, educating children and other incidental costs.

“Salaries have not kept up with these increasing costs. We will ensure our civil servants are paid the salary due to them, including incentives that are in keeping with market inflation.”

The party pledged to increase salaries of civil servants twice during its tenure, institute a mechanism to provide realistic salaries that take into account the national economy and increased costs of living. “We will ensure that the increase is fair, especially in consideration of those in the lower and middle positions of the PCS.”

The party also pledged to institute fortnightly salaries. It said that it would review salaries annually taking into account the state of the economy and inflation in the market rather than waiting for change in government.

However, the pay commission report is only likely to be tabled in the summer session. He said tabling the report in the upcoming parliament session may not be possible.

The draft   12th Plan, which is being reviewed by Gross National Happiness Commission had a provision for pay and allowance amounting to Nu 73 billion (B). Of that, Nu 20 billion is expected to cover the salary raise.

Tshering Palden