January 19: The National Assembly has decided to keep the 35% pay hike for civil servants as it is. While some members debated for a further increase, most said the 35% increment is more than enough considering the financial situation of the country and the global economic recession.
The house opened the floor for discussion after the Finance Minister presented the government’s pay hike proposal.
Some of the members asked the house to look into the possibility of increasing slightly from the proposed 35% for civil servants given the escalating food price.
The member from Gasa Damcho Dorji said though the salary was increased by 45% in 2005, the people continued to struggle because the raise could not keep up with the escalating price of commodities. He said if the pay raise this time could be made higher, it will not be necessary for the government to consider another pay raise in the next few years.
His view was supported by the National Assembly member from Gelephu Prem Kumar and the Opposition Leader Tshering Tobgay. The Opposition Leader said the government’s proposal of 35% for civil servants is not satisfactory. He said most people have been expecting an increase of over 40% after calculations by the Pay Commission of 40%-70% was made.
As deliberations continued, most members said the 35% pay hike should be kept as it is, given the fund constraints and also taking into account the global economic situation.
The Opposition Leader said it is unrealistic to expect and demand for more raise if there is budget constraint. He however said it is likely that the government has enough funds according to calculations made by the Pay Commission report. He said the government should take into account the increased earnings from taxes as a result of the pay hike.
The house however decided to keep the discussions short and keep the 35% pay hike for the civil servants as it is.
Continuing discussion on the pay hike proposal, the National Assembly decided that the Prime Minister’s salary should also be reworked. Members said the Prime Minister should be paid more than the cabinet ministers.
The Prime Minister Lyonchhen Jigmi Y. Thinley said it is important for the Prime Minister to receive a higher salary given his responsibilities and workload. But he said given the shortage of funds, the Prime Minister’s salary could be re-worked towards the end of the present government’s five year term.
The house decided that the revision should be looked into while discussing the Lhengye Zhungtshog Chatrim.
The house also decided to increase the salary of constitutional post holders. Most members said the constitutional post holders have immense responsibilities. They stay in office only for five years. Considering this, members said the increase should be made. The Finance Minister supported the view and said that the Ministry will re-work the salary of the constitutional post holders. The Opposition Leader also supported the proposal.
As an interim measure, the constitutional post holders will be paid 35% increment as proposed.
The members also discussed the pay structure of local government functionaries, the elementary service personnel, Non-Formal Education (NFE) Instructors, temporary recruits and Royal Academy of Performing Arts (RAPA) artists.
They also discussed the post service benefits and decided to keep it as proposed by the government. Discussing the subject of allowances, members said housing benefits should also be considered for other secretaries apart from the ministry secretaries. The house directed the Cabinet to re-look into the proposal by the members of the National Assembly.
Discussions were also made on the teaching and medical allowances.
The Assembly completed discussions on the 20 page proposal by the government in the day long sitting today. The report will now be discussed in the National Council.
The government says the pay hike will be implemented from January 2009.