MB Subba

The disagreement between the government and the Opposition on whether or not employees of public companies are public servants has sparked a debate.

According to the government, corporate employees are not public servants. The Opposition says otherwise.

The issue arose due to the exclusion of corporate sector in the fourth Pay Commission. Both the first and second Pay Commissions had included corporate pay revision in their reports, which according to the opposition meant public company employees were public servants.

Article 30(2) of the Constitution states: “The Pay Commission shall recommend to the Government revisions in the structure of salary, allowances, benefits, and other emoluments of the Royal Civil Service, the Judiciary, the members of Parliament and Local Governments, the holders and members of constitutional offices and all other public servants…”

The opposition has said that recommendations on the salary revision of corporate employees must come from the Pay Commission. It says corporate employees are public servants because the companies managed public money.

The government, however, has gone by the Pay Commission’s definition of public servants.

The fourth Pay Commission defined a ‘public servant’ as a person whose salary, allowances, benefits and other emoluments are drawn from the consolidated fund.

In its report, the commission stated that it consulted stakeholders and referred to relevant laws to define a public servant and for whom the revisions in pay and allowances were to be applicable. But the commission does not cite any provision of a law to support the statement.

The commission defined other government employees, either elected or appointed on term based or on contract basis, who did not fall within the purview of the Royal Civil Service Commission (RCSC) as other civil servants.

Such other public servants include MPs, holders and members of constitutional office, local leaders, General Support Personnel (GSP) and Elementary Support Personnel (ESP), Para-regular staff, staff of Royal Academy of Performing Arts, non-formal education instructors and geydrungs.

The Anti-Corruption Act defines a “public servant” as a person who is a member, an officer, an employee of a public agency, whether appointed or elected, whether permanent or temporary, whether paid or unpaid and includes a person who is a civil servant within the meaning of the Civil Service Act, as amended or receiving salary, allowances, benefits, or emoluments from public funds. 

ANNEX V of the DHI Charter states that the remuneration of the CEO and employees of DHI shall be determined by the Board of Directors of DHI.

However, some say that this clause does not block Pay Commission from reviewing and providing recommendations on pay revision of DHI companies.

They reason that the public companies are responsible for safeguarding national wealth, which belonged to the people of Bhutan.