On 20 November, a meeting was held at the conference hall of the Ministry of Finance (MoF) in Tashichhodzong, and discussions surrounding the pay revision for civil servants on Long-Term Training (LTT) took an unexpected turn. The meeting brought together eleven representatives from civil servants on LTT pursuing Master of Education (M.Ed.) at Paro and Samtse College of Education, the Acting Finance Secretary and two MoF officials.
The bottom line lies in the disparity between the expectations of civil servants on LTT and the resolutions provided by MoF. The ministry justified its stance by emphasizing that civil servants on LTT should consider themselves as students rather than teachers, citing that they are not actively engaged in teaching. Additionally, they argued that if the pay hike were granted to LTTs, it would result in them earning more than actively teaching civil servants, as LTTs receive a monthly stipend of Nu 8,000. MoF also contended that LTTs are on full government scholarships and should view the pay hike as an incentive achievable upon the completion of their M.Ed. program.
However, the LTT representatives voiced their disagreement, pointing out that the former Prime Minister, Dasho Dr Lotay Tshering, had previously announced during the 51st Meet-The-Press that civil servants on in-country LTT are eligible for a pay hike. This decision was part of a broader initiative forwarded to MoF and RCSC for implementation, alongside pay hikes for civil servants on maternity leave and short-term training (STT).
The LTT representatives argued that it is against the rules and regulations outlined in BCSR 2018 to deny them a pay hike based on the principles set by the MoF. They cited specific sections, such as 10.11.6 and 10.11.7, which consider the period of Study Leave for LTT as part of active service. According to them, since pay revision applies to all civil servants, they too should be eligible for the revision.
The distinction between teachers on LTT and active teachers in the field was emphasized by LTTs, who highlighted the absence of teaching allowances and the provision of only half of the House Rent Allowance as a clear distinction. They also opposed the claim that the stipend of Nu 8,000 puts them in a more favorable financial position than field teachers.
One of the LTTs who attended the meeting shared his views regarding the inconsistency in the MoF’s principles, noting that civil servants on maternity leave and STT have already been granted pay hikes, even though they fall under the same category of active service. They argued that their exclusion from the pay revision deviates from the main objective of ensuring fair pay for civil servants to maintain a reasonable standard of living, especially considering the impact of inflation and the high cost of living.
The LTT representatives stressed the crucial role of Human Resource Development in the civil service, citing their active involvement in educational research and policy-making during the M.Ed. program. They argued that the program is a vital component of nation-building, and the denial of a pay hike for LTTs could hinder the effectiveness of this initiative.
Meanwhile, the Acting Finance Secretary did not deny the pay hike for LTTs completely, if RCSC can make the policy-oriented decision with benefits such as human resource development, then RCSC can put forward and support that those on LTT should get the pay hike.
The discontentment was expressed by the LTT representatives, however, they acknowledged a glimmer of hope, expressing optimism that the RCSC could advocate for their eligibility for the pay revision. Furthermore, a group of LTT representatives suggests constructive dialogue between the RCSC and MoF to address their concerns and find a resolution that aligns with the principles of fairness and equality within the civil service.
The former cabinet recommended a hike but the final discussions and details were to be sorted out between the MoF and the RCSC since BCSR rules and financial norms are involved.