Bhutanese Civil Servants paid higher than Bangladeshi and Nepalese counterparts but lower than Indian ones

 Bhutan is facing a high attrition rate from the civil service and the private sector and one major reason cited is pay. This is the main reason the sixth pay commission has been formed to increase the pay of the civil servants.

A regional comparison shows that Bhutanese civil servants get paid higher than Bangladeshi and Nepalese Civil servants but are quite behind Indian civil servants.

The Cabinet Secretary who is the senior most and highest paid civil servant in Bhutan is paid a minimum of Nu 84,180 and a maximum of Nu 92,605 per month.

In Nepal the Cabinet Secretary called the Chief Secretary there is paid Nu 51,892 a month.

In Bangladesh the same position gets around Nu 66,220.

However, in India its Cabinet Secretary is paid Nu 250,000 a month.

In Bhutan the salary of the government secretary is from Nu 73,845 to Nu 81,245. In Nepal it is Nu 48,439 and in Bangladesh it is Nu 60,060. In India it is Nu 225,000 per month.

Bhutan’s pay for civil servants in position level EX/ES 1, which are for executives and specialists has a salary of minimum Nu 62,220 and a maximum of Nu 80,895 per month. This position would include Director Generals, Dzongdas and some Directors.

In Nepal the same position gets Nu 38,894 to Nu 44,123.  In Bangladesh it is Nu 38,500 to 46,200

A director in India, would earn a minimum of Nu 118,500, a Joint Secretary (DG) Nu 144,200 and an additional Secretary Nu 205,400 per month.

Teachers are one of the highest paid civil servants in Bhutan. Teachers earn a minimum of Nu 26,237 to a maximum of Nu 63,974 with the vast majority earning in between Nu 30,000 to Nu 40,000.

In Bangladesh new teachers start at Nu 20,000 and take 17 years to reach Nu 44,629 which is their highest pay inclusive of allowances.

In Nepal the highest paid and senior most teachers get Nu 42,931.

Government teachers in India earn Nu 60,000 to a maximum of Nu 85,000 inclusive of all allowances.

While Bhutanese civil servants are paid higher than those in Nepal and Bangladesh the pay gap with India is quite huge.

In the Bhutanese context inflation would be a major factor especially in places like Thimphu, Paro and many other Dzongkhags where everything from the cost of goods to labour is more expensive.

Corruption is relatively more rampant among civil servants in India, Nepal and Bangladesh and so their official income may not give the full picture. However, it will also not be correct to generalize this all across.

If pay is the main reason why civil servants from Bhutan are resigning to work in Australia, then it is not clear why there are not similar levels of mass resignation among the civil servants in Nepal and Bangladesh who are paid lesser.

Ironically, civil servants in Bhutan enjoy a comparatively higher salary than those working in the private sector. Comparatively, those working in corporations and financial institutions also enjoy a competitive salary compared to civil servants.

Within segments of the public and private sector in Bhutan there is a growing feeling that they are underpaid and are even overworked. The high attrition in the civil service, has made it worse as people have had to pick up double roles and responsibilities. With a minimal salary, many are not happy with the amount of job undertaken.

According to a nurse in the JDWNRH hospital, many of the staff in the hospital are overworked.

“We are overworked and underpaid. There are times when we have to carry on our duties without sleep or minimal sleep, and even night duty allowances are very less. With the last revised pay, it seems like many other allowances will also be cut off and sometimes, with the amount of work undertaken with less wage, it feels like labour exploitation,” the nurse said on the condition of anonymity.

The same can be said about employees in the private sector. The salary given is very less for most of the staff in the private sector, unless one works for big companies or financial institutions. For example, an employee working as a marketing officer in a financial institution makes more than Nu 30,000 with the house rent allowance included, but a marketing officer in a smaller company is paid a salary of Nu 12,000 or less, and it is difficult to make ends meet, especially in Thimphu.

Such comparisons show that income distribution in the country is heavily unequal.

Dechen said she is having a hard time sustaining a livelihood in Thimphu. She said, “I love my job but the amount of salary I’m paid is not enough to sustain living in Thimphu. Especially in the private sector, we are underpaid and at the same time, we don’t have amenities and job security provided by government jobs. This is very disheartening.”

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