818 Civil Servants resigned and 503 went on EOL from Jan to Aug 2022

In a clear uptick compared to past years, a total of 818 civil servants across agencies voluntarily resigned much before their tenure in the last eight months from 1st January to 31st August 2022.

It is expected that most of these civil servants have headed to Australia.

The average resignation rate is around 102 civil servants resigning every month so far. At this rate more than a thousand civil servants will have put up their resignation by the end of this year.

For the whole of 2021 which was another year that saw high resignations there were a total of 892 resignations.

Similarly, in the last eight months 503 civil servants have gone on Extra Ordinary Leave (EOL) which is given for upto two years. Here again, the majority have moved to Australia and so many are not expected to join back.

This is compared to 155 EOL leaves in 2021.

In terms of the total number of civil servants separating from the civil service in the last 8 months, it is 1,400 including 64 Election Commission of Bhutan (ECB) officials as the ECB is formally being delinked from the system.

This 1,400 separation includes 818 voluntary resignations, 196 superannuation or retirement, 120 contract completion, 96 early retirement scheme, 44 special retirement scheme (senior executives), 35 deaths, 14 compulsory retirements and 13 terminations.

Of the 1,400 who separated from the service the largest occupation group is teachers at 341 of them.

However, this is not the full story as another 154 teachers have take EOL meaning a total of 495 teachers not in the education system currently due to separation and EOL.

The second biggest occupation group is in the medical and health group where around 160 of them have separated from the service and another 71 have gone on EOL bringing the total to 231 of them.

In this category the matter of greatest concern is the number of doctors and nurses separating or going on EOL. According to past experience doctors and nurses going on EOL rarely come back as most of them find employment outside in Australia, Canada, USA, Singapore etc.

Of this group 3 medical doctors have separated while another 11 have gone on EOL. Nurses, who are more valuable with experience, has also seen major numbers leaving as 40 have separated and another 30 have gone on EOL.

According to sources there are even more doctors and nurses applying for resignation or EOL.

This is a matter of concern too as some entire medical departments depend on one or two doctors who are the only ones with the skills or specialization.

It is not just doctors and nurses leaving, but also other important technical staff like radiologists, laboratory staff, therapists, technicians, diagnostic staff, etc.

The civil service is also losing another important skill set which is engineers. 65 of them including some road inspectors have separated and another 23 have gone on EOL.

At a time when digital Bhutan is a priority 36 ICT services staff have separated while another 10 have gone on EOL.

Also, at a time when the need of the hour is to secure more revenue for the country 30 revenue services officers mainly from the Department of Revenue and Customs have separated from service with another 14 going on EOL.

22 from the Financing, Accounting and Budget services have separated while another 34 have gone on EOL. This category of people is important for financial planning and accounting in the Finance Ministry and other agencies and are in demand in countries like Australia.

17 from the planning services have separated while another 10 are on EOL, and they play a key role in planning developmental activities across agencies.

Similarly, 32 from program services are separated while another 17 are on EOL.

12 from the survey engineering services have separated while another 4 are on EOL. This is also another skill in demand in Australia.

7 from Geology and Mines have separated while 3 have gone on EOL.

8 Anti Corruption Officials have separated while another 10 have separated from Royal Audit Authority and two more auditors have gone on EOL.

9 people from Aviation have separated from the aviation services which is another important technical skill especially at the airport in terms of managing air traffic and also airplane safety.

10 from specialist services who are highly trained technical people across agencies have separated while another 2 are on EOL.

Many people from forests, agriculture and livestock have also left and gone on EOL.

There are also people from environment services, sport services, library services, immigration, civil registration and census, trade and industries, architectural, legal, HR, administrative and other services who have also separated and taken EOL in varying numbers.

It is clear from the above that it is not just generic civil servants leaving, but important and key people like doctors and nurses or experts in various other fields are leaving.

This will impact the service delivery and the skill set in the civil service even if the numbers are replaced.

However, at the same time if one analyses the past years’ data it is clear that this is not an overnight phenomenon but a growing trend that went up from 2016 onwards when the original Australia rush started.

While 818 civil servants resigned in the last 8 months and 892 in 2021 the numbers started spiking up sharply from 2016 with 372 resignations, 471 in 2017, 609 in 2018 (included political candidates’ resignation for the elections) and 568 in 2019.

The number should have gone up in 2020 but due to the pandemic and closed borders and restricted travel it still came to 542 resignations which meant a backlog of sorts built up in 2020 that is now exploding in 2021 and 2022.

This is now combined with an increased rush.

The total number of civil servants separated from all reasons (minus EOL) also follows a similar trend with 656 in 2016 (compared to 472 in 2015), 782 in 2017, 925 in 2018 (elections), 866 in 2019, 1,084 in 2020, 1,504 in the whole of 2021 and 1,400 in the first eight months of 2022.

A key data to look at is the attrition rate or the percentage at which civil servants are leaving.   It was 2.84 percent in 2017, 3.26 percent in 2018, 2.95 percent in 2019, 3.54 percent in 2020 and a sharp increase of 4.82 percent in 2021.

In 2022 just in the first eight months it has already reached 4.48 percent and is expected to cross well over the 2021 attrition rate by the end of 2022.

A senior Royal Civil Service Commission (RCSC) official said that while the trend is higher than normal the tentative assessment is that the attrition rate is not very high compared to international standards.

The official said it is 9 percent in Singapore, 12 percent in UK and so on.

The official said that civil servants resigning and leaving for Australia are motivated primarily by economic factors as the government pay in Bhutan is nowhere near what people can earn in Australia.

The senior official said that with the reforms the aspiration in the long run is to pay the civil service well.

The official said that another factor is globalization as firstly there is more exposure, and secondly Bhutan is now competing with countries like Australia, USA, Canada for Bhutanese employees.

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