Thursday, April 11, 2019

The Pay Commission Proposal.

Looks like the Cabinet has looked it over and found it satisfactory. The civil servants would find it much better deal than the last pay raise under PDP Cabinet. But many should at least credit PDP Cabinet for the 20% house rent that was not there for most civil servants and tax exemption enhanced to Nu: 200,000 and further waiving off tax on fixed deposits to encourage savings for retirement. These PDP initiatives  have far reaching livelihood enhancement impacts. 

1. The proposal by this Pay Commission for annual increment of 5%  for " civil servants " seems rational. But why be coy and not mention others like elected people and constitutional appointees? After all they will get heftier increases as per set  precedents.

2. What can be defined as Pay Commission's absolute hypocrisy is in recommending over 30% hike in MP's allowances for driver, fuel and maintenance ( reasoning must be inflation ) and reducing mileage claim to Nu.10 from Nu:16 per kms. It could make some rational  sense if the reduction is applicable only to MPs ( presume not at all agreeable  to MPs ) and not for civil servants who get nothing in terms of driver, fuel and maintenance. 

For record, I do not disagree with increase in MP allowances. They deserve more. After all they too faced election rigours just like the cabinet Ministers and unlike those appointed to constitutional posts who too, enjoy duty vehicle with driver. Thus MPs such allowances are comparatively much lower.

What a shame in increasing perks for some and hammering the real lead workers ( civil servants in P grade ) by reducing mileage rate drastically by 40% instead of increasing the same ). A typical demonstration of oppressive administration by the elite group.

There cannot be cost saving by this rediculous and insensitive bullying reduction  because hired cars will cost more than Nu:16 per kms. And civil servants will be compelled to either wait  their turn to  use scarce  Pool vehicle or hire vehicle for official travel away from station. This will affect quality of service to the people and the nation. Why did Pay Commission envy a little income of civil servants from mileage?

I hope MPs can stand up against such economic bullying and disparity. Looks like all Pay Commission members enjoy duty vehicles with drivers. So mileage rate does not bother them. Bullied  civil servants in mid grade cannot do much but MPs can. Good Luck if you all have the courage.

3. I wish to thank the Prime Minister for declaring that Pensions will not be taxed. It must be a huge relief to Pensioners not just in terms of financial relief but also the hazzle of PIT filing. Few years back,  I had written about the need to waive off taxes on  Pensions. I felt it would be a genuine thank you to those retirees who helped  build the nation. Just for the few who think everything is for personal benefit, I am not a Pensioner and will never be one. 

However, I felt that the oft repeated phrase by so many Speakers " our forefathers built this nation " should have some tangible meaning not just empty rhetorics. And one substantive way would be doing away with tax on Pension and also in freeing our seniors from the insolent attitude of our young tax officers at Regional Revenue offices. By the way, to all those who think and state aloud in social media that senior people are senile and should be shoved off in hermitage of  wilderness corners,  your family elders including your unfortunate parents dead or living have my sympathy and respects.

4.This thing of Nu: 10,000 per month for serving red scarf officers. I have no hard and  fast views. Red Scarf is a royal prerogative and is a novelty but not a noble service. As for "noble service " the nation has medals for both military and civilians. I have observed that starting from the 3rd King; our successive Wangchuck Kings have adopted different goals in exercising this royal prerogative. 

HM the 3rd King, used it to boost the confidence and authority of Bhutanese administrators who took over from Indian administrators. In instituting the orange scarf, the King was also endowing to a limitted but in a purposeful way  the royal aura to the Lhengyes. The 4th King used it to build an efficient and well educated coterie of national administrators. And the 5th King seems to be converting all other  coloured scarfs  to post entitlement and   elevating the red scarf as pure honorary royal title to confer upon royal chosen ones.

I do not know about the monetary value of red, blue and green scarf or that of lumar or orange scarfs. I think the nominal allowance of Nu:100  was for meeting cost of the kamni and.maintaining its colour. Those days, pay too was nominal. Many in the past were awarded orange scarf after the red scarf. So if tradition has any value in present context, orange is above red.  Red scarf was for nykem ( 1st class officer rank ) and orange for Lhengye Wongma ( Deputy Minister )  and orange scarf with folds for Lyengye Gongma ( Minister ). In the Central Monastic body the same traditional  ranking is still observed.

Whatever the fate of past practice about colour Kamnis,  I do not think it is fair to assume that the Pay Commission Chairman is responsible  for this red scarf fee proposal. I do not believe that Dasho Penjor a red scarf officer and Governor of Royal Monetary Authority would take advantage of his chairmanship of Pay Commission to reward himself. He is a far better person. The proposal cannot be his initiative. It is too crude a way for such a cultured personality who was even Dasho Zimpon not so long ago.  Anyway such  fee seems more appropriate  as a kind of welfare consideration for such honoured persons upon retirement from active service  to supplement their pension. That way no red scarf officer need to struggle for livelihood like commoners during the  retirement years. The present highly honoured and highly  paid Dashos  could do without the additional  subsistance monthly payment whilst on active service.

Any way, apart from the PBI ( performance based incentive ) and mileage reduction cases,  all other proposals could sail through the Parliament including the fee for red scarf.  The Prime Minister has expressed some genuine reservation on implementation of PBI. And MPs would be worthless if they cannot collectively prevent being bullied  along with P category civil servants by the mileage taunt.

1 comment:

  1. Dear sir, i would like to express my sincere appreciation and gratitude for the article. Your article will relieve of great inequality during our children's generation, that would follow suite due to this pay commission's recommendation if implemented.
    Thank you once again for the article.