… this is the second Pay Commission in the span of five months

Rinzin Wangchuk 

The government has constituted the sixth Pay Commission led by the former chairperson of Druk Holding and Investments (DHI), Dasho Ugen Chewang.

An official from Prime Minister’s Office confirmed that Dasho Ugen Chewang will chair the sixth Pay Commission with the same members as the fifth commission which was dissolved in October 30 last year. “However, the government is yet to issue an executive order to formalize the constitution of the new commission,” the official said.

The fifth pay commission was constituted on October 19 last year with Dasho Ugen Chewang as the chairperson and Cabinet Secretary, Kesang Deki, International Expert Yeo Whee Jim, Chief Finance Transformation Officer of the Ministry of Finance and DHI, Raymond Wan, and Finance Specialist Leki Wangmo, who is now the acting secretary of MoF, as members.

Based on the pay commission report and recommendations, the Parliament in November last year endorsed the Pay Structure Reform Bill with a five percent to 24 percent pay hike for civil and public servants.

The new revision will come into force with effect from July 1 this year for the general civil servants and other public servants. For the National Council members, the pay revision will come into force when the new members are in the house while NA members will get it when the new government is established.

However, the pay revision sparked debate among public servants. Some are saying that it lacked the ‘wow’ factor, as what was expected as a clean wage system has only a revision of between Nu 3,000 to Nu 11,000 only.  “We expected at least a 50 percent pay hike to meet the inflation and motivate civil servants,” a civil servant who is in P5 said adding that he is totally demotivated with the revision.

The fifth Pay Commission, in adherence to the terms of reference outlined in the executive order and bearing in mind the relevant provisions of the Constitutions and other relevant laws, had considered sufficient current and future socio-economic factors in recommending the new pay structures for public servants. It also recommended that the Pay Commission be constituted at periodic intervals to address changes in the fiscal environment and reforms resulting from implementing the performance-based management system.

The net annual financial implication from the Pay Commission recommendation was Nu 707.2 million, which is to be met from the national savings mainly from changes in the treatment of allowances and benefits and general budget savings.

Meanwhile, the government’s decision to relook into the recent pay revision is welcomed by many civil servants. Some commented on social media that one ‘push factor’ for civil servants resigning and moving abroad was the inadequate salary in the face of shooting inflation. “This time we are hoping for a good result unlike last time,” one commented.

As per the Royal Civil Service Commission record, a total of 40 officials in P1s (chief level) have been separated from the civil service this year between January and to date.  Out of that, 14 are in managerial positions, and 26 are in specialist positions. The majority of those in the specialist position constitute the education and training services group. About 1,488 civil servants resigned voluntarily in just one year, last year.

In a recent meeting, Lyonchhen Dr Lotay Tshering said that about a year back, the civil servant attrition rate was 4.6 percent and it increased to six percent six months ago. A few weeks ago, the attrition rate has reached almost eight percent.

“Compared with the rest of the countries Bhutan’s attrition rate of eight percent is not so high. However, if such trend continues the attrition rate may increase to 10-15 percent then it will become one of the highest in the world,” Lyonchhen said. “So the trend is very worrying.”

Lyonchhen had hinted at possible salary revision for public servants. “For this, eform is the only answer to this call,” he said. While doing the reform exercise, Lyonchhen said that target number one will be to revise salary for public servants, create a conducive working environment, and make an attractive pension scheme.