During a recent press conference held on July 5, the Bhutan Kuen-Nyam Party (BKP) voiced their stance, based on four grounds, regarding the pay raise that the government had pledged for the civil servants.
BKP talked on issues related to pay raise on four grounds such as economic, social justice, on vehicle tax which includes fuel tax, import of electric cars and second hand cars and the money bill.
The pay revision is expected to be financed through tax revenue from vehicle quota system, PIT from salary raise, Chhukha hydropower tariff, and other cost cutting measures.
From an economic point of view, BKP said that the government report must clearly outline the source of proceeds to realize the additional Nu 1.799bn per annum. BKP said nothing seems clear on the sources cited.
“The Pay Commission report is clear, whereas the government report is not clear,” said the BKP President Sonam Tobgay. He cited the second pay commission report where the expenditure savings from capping of civil service growth at 2% and results in a saving of Nu189mn, from capping of in-country travel budget at 15% resulting in a saving of Nu108mn and from pool vehicle withdrawal which saves Nu 409mn.
While the tax revenue from monetization of vehicle quota realizes Nu 665mn, tax revenue from PIT proceeds realizes Nu 313mn, and tax revenue from Chhukha hydropower at Nu 1.970mn.
The realization of proceeds depends on the full implementation of the recommendation of the second pay commission. BKP said there is a large variation between the Pay Commission report and the Government Pay Revision report, for instance, the second pay commission report recommended 91% revision for the PM while the government report revealed 131%.
Furthermore, BKP also felt it was undignified of the Prime Minister to make an announcement during the State of the Nation report address on the donation of Nu 50, 000 to charity. The BKP President said the PM must realize that many more people are charitable and do not make such an address in an august gathering which deserves bigger respect and dignity.
The party also pointed out the voting pattern and the party refuted the legality of the voting procedures. BKP also pointed out that the PM has no control over his ministers and Members of Parliament, which the party feels is symptomatic of a larger problem and an indication of weak leadership on the part of PM.
The pay raise for civil servants was a pledge made by the PDP, and now with the PM taking Nu 198, 000 corresponding to 131% pay hike along with the cabinet ministers drawing Nu143, 000 corresponding to a 63% pay hike, BKP questioned the social justice for the civil servants, corporate and private sector.
“With the recent pay raise proposal, a majority of people are unhappy and it is a huge moral issue,” Sonam Tobgay said stressing on a need to table it again and reconstitute a third pay commission.
The party has already requested the government for the third pay commission to be constituted, in keeping with a true sense of democracy.
On the issue like fuel tax, vehicle tax and import of electric cars, BKP questioned the target outcome if imposed. The party also said the import of electric cars contradicts the government’s policy and objectives of environment conservation as the import of secondhand electric cars come with the potential environmental hreat as Bhutan can become a dumping ground in the long run. BKP said the battery packs, the main integral component of the car are prone to wear and tear of electronic parts leading to increased e-waste. With the import of secondhand e-cars, one of the drawbacks pointed out was recharging stations.
When it comes to money bill, BKP said the Speaker has to be clear on money bill and report and further said if it is money bill, it has to go for royal assent as an independent document and not merge with the other documents.
The Pay Commission was constituted under Article 30 of the Constitution that clearly states that the recommendation of the commission shall be implemented only on the approval of the Lhengye Zhungtshog and subject to such conditions and modifications as may be made by the Parliament.