With so much public grievances and disappointments pouring all over in the country, it is hard to avoid the issue. However, it was necessary to give prior space to the direct stake holders and the legislators. It may be now appropriate to express personal views. In spite of opposing views on matters of national sovereignty, I had a healthy respect for Prime Minister Tshering Tobgay for his publicly demonstrated socialist characteristics. But it looks like he kept away from the government pay hike proposal. Has he decided to be the Post man?
The mere 4% pay hike for lower category and over 67% and more for higher echelons demonstrates that the much hyped pay hike was geared towards rewarding local and national elected politicians and constitutional Bodies. And to declare that the allowance that the civil servants already had been given under DPT formed government in 2010 also constitutes part of the increment proposed by this PDP formed government is not just audacious but tantamount to personal injury.
Housing allowance for most midlevel civil servants should have been given long time back. The lower levels are entitled to subsidized housing and higher ups get free housing or 30% allowance pegged to their salary so the amount increases with yearly increments. Even so PDP has kept its campaign promise albeit in an oblique way.
When it comes to the real mules of the civil service force, the housing allowance is fixed to the lowest basic starting salary and a humiliating slap in the face kind of a salary increment has been proposed. Compare 4% to 67% and 8% to 131% and the sting drives in.
There is an undeniable drive of greed and an attitude of making the most whilst in power in the proposed pay structure. Even then the other side of the coin is the incomparably high salaries of DHI Executives and Chairman thanks to an extraordinary concealed from public pay structure adopted by itself at the time of its establishment 6 years ago. Compare present DHI Chairman Salary of Nu: 160,000 to the proposed PM salary of Nu: 180,000. Compare DHI Executives present salaries of Nu: 130,000 to 140,000 to that of Chief Justice, Ministers, and Head of constitutional Bodies. What is DHI? It is an agency like many others playing a limited supervisory role for the government’s commercial enterprises. Compare its responsibilities to that of the Cabinet, Judiciary, Constitutional Bodies or even RMA.
In a under developed nation like Bhutan, it is the monthly salary that determines your social and political status. And may be the top administrators and leaders felt they deserved if not better than at least at par with another government agency like DHI. Can that be considered greed or is it mere sense of yearning for equity.
It is unfortunate that national resources do not permit a well-deserved pay hike for all. So if parity is to be introduced at an appropriate level, the next contract for DHI Chairman and Executives should incorporate a nationally equitable salary.
Personally I feel that everyone including DHI deserves good salary but the financial pot is small and so it is fair that what goes around is appropriately proportioned.
The present government proposal is based on two logics:
- There are fewer top administrators and leaders so pay them adequately.
- There are greater number of civil servants so reduce theirs to the minimum to reduce financial strain to the national Exchequer.
This does not abode well in terms of rationality. The pay hike is to compensate for yearly inflations. And inflation affects all both high and low category. The pay hike, rationally, should be same percentage. The higher echelons do not lose out because they have a higher salary base. Moreover there are many perks that ordinary civil servants can only dream of.
I do not know the actual person of the Prime Minister but I do not believe that his past views, statements and practices were all for consumption for the electorate public. Therefore I feel that he should be now in position to bring about a rational pay hike for all. I hope that he now gets the necessary support from different quarters if those had not been forthcoming earlier.
From hence forth all salaries that are directly or indirectly paid from the coffers of the nation should be brought under the purview of the National Pay Commission. And the Pay Commission should simply study the inflationary trends and recommend the percentage increment across the board and leave it to the government to find the resources to implement the same. And the government should not play around to enrich only the political Bodies be it elected or constitutional.
What is true in national governance is if there is able Leadership, the interest of all including that of leaders are taken care of. When there is vacuum in real leadership then Achus and Phentoes protect their own turfs. And that’s what happened here.
A suggestion to reduce financial burden and increase employment opportunities – Maybe just stop detaining in active service those already entitled to pension and let go those that have completed their initial term of tenures. Surely Bhutan has adequate pool of human resources who are able and trust worthy to replace those that have contributed their share of service. For valid reasons, it is irrational to expect anyone to follow the footsteps of the 4th King but maybe it would be a reasonable expectation for senior people, upon completing their mandated tenure or active service period, give way to the younger generation. Give way to other’s children so that others will move to give away to your children.