Commending the government for introducing its first pay revision, the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) said that against the government’s pledge to revise the minimum daily wage to Nu 450 a day, which translates to a monthly minimum salary of Nu 13,500, the proposed pay raise for O1-level and below public officials would still be below the minimum wage.

In a press release the party office released yesterday, the PDP thanked the government for taking note of their request to enhance the teaching allowance and called on the MPs in both the Houses to support the proposal to make teaching profession attractive.

The PDP also thanked the government for considering their request to give a pay raise to elected local government officials who the pay commission had left out citing their pay raise in 2017. “However, we find that they are not given house rent allowances like other public officials. We strongly urge the MPs to support house rent allowance for them like other public officials.”

At a press conference on May 22, Prime Minister Dr Lotay Tshering, while speaking on incorporating feedback from the DNT office and others had said that he also met with former Prime Minister Dasho Tshering Tobgay to discuss the suggestions from the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) recently and personally thanked him.

“What Dasho has suggested through the media and through a letter to my office has been considered and it’s there. We incorporated whatever suggestions that were possible to incorporate because it is for all of us,” Lyonchhen had said.

Supporting the generous and well-deserved allowances for clinical professionals, PDP said it is concerned that other categories of civil servants such as ambulance drivers, engineers, BAFRA field staff, field surveyors, municipal officials, and field officials in trade, customs, civil aviation, etc. may have been left out.

PDP’s press release reminds DNT of its pledge to provide uniform DA across all ranks in the civil service leaving aside the executive ranks. While an increase of Nu 500 has been provided for the executive and P-level officials, PDP points out that the increase for S-level officials is only Nu 250. “Since DA is to meet the expenditure for lodge and meals, the Government could have approved uniform DA for all officials as per their campaign promise.”

While the pay revision Bill and the pay commission report consistently mention the existing domestic help/maid for the PM and ministerial rank officials, and approving allowances for maids at par with ESP, the PDP clarified that although there was such a practice during the first government, the second government after careful review had done away with such facilities “until economy improves.”

PDP calls for a thorough justification on the government approving an enhanced discretionary allowance of Nu 150,000 per year for MPs even though the pay commission had not recommended any increase in discretionary allowance.

“We thank the government for noting our recommendation by not increasing the red scarf allowance to 10,000 per month. This certainly ensures that the Royal honour is not monetised and would not undermine that unique honour.” 

On the increase of Daily Allowance (DA) when both food and lodge is arranged, from 20 to 50 percent, and the government approving 100 percent DA claim when accompanying the PM, Ministers and the equivalent positions during in-country travels, the PDP has asked if this means that officials will be asked to arrange their own food and lodge?

“If not, this 100 percent DA should be applied to all public officials when both food and lodge are provided.” It points out that there is confusion when “DA rates shall be revised for public servants accompanying the PM, Cabinet minister and equivalent positions to 50 percent while travelling outside the country.”

“Does this mean that the PM, Cabinet ministers and equivalent positions would claim DSA on actual basis when travelling abroad?” Otherwise, the accompanying officials should be allowed to claim 100 percent DSA.

PDP said that the DNT has pledged to give vehicle quota to all citizens and increase the Nu 800,000 quota ceiling to Nu 1.5 million. It noted that the government did not seem to have worked on it while allowing PM, cabinet ministers and equivalent positions, and MPs to monetise at Nu1.5M while all others monetise at Nu 250,000.

In tabling the commission’s recommendations to the Parliament as a Money Bill, the PDP claims that the government has not followed the parliamentary procedures.

“While this has allowed the government to seek public views and pander to populist demands, it has compromised the integrity and sanctity of a Money Bill as envisioned by our Constitution,” the press release states. “The procedure requires a Money Bill to be made public only on the day Finance Minister tables in the National Assembly. This is to prevent a Money Bill pandering to populist moves.”

Staff Reporter