All pledge affordable housing and reviewing the IWP

Dechen Dolkar

If it is said that political parties know how to make themselves appeal to voters, especially the educated lot, the five political parties vying to get to the general round knew how to do it.

In the past few months, the mandatory Individual Work Plan (IWP) had not appealed to civil servants while high cost of housing and living is a common complaint. As parties try to woo civil servants who, many believe, could influence undecided voters within the family circle, parties are pledging to review or do away with the IWP, providing house ownership to civil servants, revise salary, review pension system and improve public service delivery.

All the political parties have pledged to provide affordable housing to civil servants, introduce homeownership opportunities, review the IWP, which is identified as a main cause of attrition among civil servants.

Bhutan Tendrel Party (BTP) pledged to introduce a special homeownership quota to public servants who have served more than 30 years and revise pension schemes tied to the annual inflation rate and the basic cost of living. BTP also pledged to revise the existing salary structure for public servants and provide special allowances for the national workforce subject to the economic situation and fiscal position.

The party also promised to review IWP, MAX (Managing for Excellence) systems and Annual Performance Agreement (APA) in consultation with the Royal Civil Service Commission (RCSC). The party pledged to review the impact of civil and public service transformation exercises for human resources, morale, attrition, efficiency, functionality and coordination and undertake corrective measures, if necessary.

Druk Nyamrup Tshogpa (DNT) also pledged to provide affordable housing to low-income groups  and recruit and retain the best and brightest talent by further offering competitive salaries and benefits, as well as opportunities for professional development and providing a performance-based incentive (PBI) system planned and detailed out by the RCSC.

Druk Phuensem Tshogpa (DPT) wants to review the IWP’s relevance and effectiveness and start a home ownership scheme for civil servants based on their affordability. The party also pledged to review and amend the civil service Act to include the changing roles, duties and functions of civil servants. A pledge different from others is to consider the study period as an active service to ensure timely promotions are not affected.

The party also pledged that it will, in consultation with RCSC, provide three years of business leave without pay with an option to come back to civil service. However, the period will not be considered for grade promotion. DPT also promised to introduce family-friendly policies that support families through affordable childcare, parental leave, and flexible working hours. The party promised to ensure salaries are attractive and rewarding through periodic review and revision depending on the economic situation of the country and the government’s fiscal position.

The party pledged to review the pension scheme for civil servants and support civil servants to pursue undergraduate programs without having to resign from the service and with salary, in consultation with RCSC.

Other pledges include regularising services of contract employees whose service is required for more than a year and arrange civil servant spouses to be placed in the same location to respect the ‘institution of marriage’ and to ensure a happy and healthy family, in consultation with RCSC.

Druk Thuendrel Tshogpa (DTT) pledged to revise and rationalise the current remuneration structure, depending on the economic situation of the country and the government’s fiscal position. DTT pledged to allocate Nu 3B as human resource professional development grants and promote affordable housing for civil servants to help their post-service.

The party pledged to review the personal income tax slab slab based on inflation and cost of living and increase the pension scheme options from the current 20 years to at least 30 years.

The party pledged to review incentives for civil service through the Pay Commission including IWP, TA/DA and retirement benefits through proper consultations.

The People’s Democratic Party (PDP) also pledged to review the pension policy to eliminate the requirement for a 20-year service threshold for pension eligibility. PDP also pledged to enable home ownership on priority by providing for first-time home/apartment purchases or first house constructions, and through access to loans by relaxing Loan-to-value (LTV) mortgage ratio from 70 percent to 95 percent.

The party will institute a special program called ‘Rent to Own’ where housing stock will be made available for ownership to civil servants or salaried tenants after a specified duration of occupancy.

PDP is also pledging  to regularise the service of contract employees with same  benefits same like home ownership, salary raises, allowances, professional development, provident fund and gratuity benefits and transfer allowances

The party promised to introduce flexible working hours for working parents.

Good governance

After decades of focusing on service delivery, improving service delivery is still high on the priority list of the parties through improve turnaround time and decentralizing authority to the local government.

BTP pledged to review, streamline and do away with redundant and unnecessary rules and regulations that act as barriers to efficient public service, affecting the public. It also wants to foster and strengthen linkages between the parliamentarians, executives and local governments.

DNT pledged to discontinue revenue and legal stamp usage while retaining both online and offline options for various public services. The party pledged to coordinate policies across different government agencies to ensure that policies are complementary and they are implemented effectively with minimum turnaround time.

DNT will decentralise power to local governments so that they have greater autonomy to make decisions and improve service delivery and strengthen the community centers to provide a range of public services using the National Digital Identity platform.

DPT pledged to promote a transparent and accountable administration through the use of modern technology and data analytics and empower local governments to serve the people most efficiently and services are taken closer to the people.

A pledge that has raised some eyebrows, the DTT pledged to convert Lhengay Densa into Zhabto Densa. It also pledged to replace the designated 75 pool vehicles with electric vehicles and relocate 10 agencies to districts.

The party pledged to institute a system of Meritocracy, Equity, Efficiency and Transparency (MEET) in the first 108 days that shall define the yardstick for targets and performance.

The party promised to manage community centers under gewog administration and rationalise gewog utility vehicles through monetization for LG members.

PDP pledged to empower the gewog administration to approve the construction of traditional houses within a day in the villages without the need for detailed drawings.

The party pledged to develop public service delivery standards in all affairs of government and people interactions and enact it as Citizen’s Charter, which will serve as a minimum right of the citizens in receiving public services.