The Cabinet has given instructions to the Ministry of Finance to rework the fourth pay commission report after an initial cabinet meeting on the issue.
In addition to this, cabinet ministers have also been instructed to read the entire report and come with their own perspectives on the issue.
The Prime Minister (Dr) Lotay Tshering said that the cabinet will have to have a Lhengye Dhensa (informal cabinet meet) meeting on this followed by a formal cabinet meeting before finalizing the government’s changes in the report.
The Foreign Minister Lyonpo Tandin Dorji said that all concerns expressed by civil servants and people in the media and social media is being taken into account by the cabinet.
However, this time around, the cabinet will not present its report to the public but will only present it to the summer session of the parliament. The cabinet has the main authority to make changes which is why the final pay commission report will be presented as a report to the Parliament and not as a money bill.
The main task of the Ministry of Finance is that while incorporating changes it will have to look at if it can be managed within the allocated budget of Nu 20 bn for the pay hike in the 12th plan.
With the actual increase being Nu 17.913 bn one would imagine that there is another 2 bn to play with but this is not the case as this 2 bn has to be allocated to other public servants like the Royal University of Bhutan staff pay hike and also areas like hiking the stipends of students, all of which, added together already comes to around Nu 20 bn.
This gives the government very little financial room to manoeuver and except for some increase it has to largely make do with the available resources.
A senior figure in the government said that cabinet will definitely look at reducing the actual gap in hikes between the different positions as the popular feeling was that while the percentage maybe lower the actual hike is much higher in the senior positions.
The MoF and the cabinet will be looking at the controversial Performance Based Incentive (PBI) which keeps 10 percent of the annual pay to be given based on individual work plan performance (5 percent) and the agency level performance (five percent).
The MoF and the cabinet will take a closer look at this PBI which will come to 877.95 mn.
There are currently two viewpoints in the cabinet on PBI. One point of view among some ministers is that this is highly controversial and cannot be implemented and so should be done away with and money budgeted for this can go into enhancing pay and allowances.
However, there is also a view among some other ministers that the PBI can be reformed, especially for the more contentious individual performance and it should be retained so that there is incentive for better performance by the civil service.
The cabinet will also look at if lump sum payments can be considered instead of just percentages.
Another senior leader in the government said that while the pay commission has done a professional job the report cannot be considered complete as it now has to incorporate the DNT’s vision and mission.
The leader said that the differences in the pay percentage will change for sure as it has to be fair to those getting less pay in the first place.
He said that one additional thing that the cabinet wants to find from the MoF is also on the degree to which the cabinet can legally make changes in the original report.
He said that the cabinet will be discussing various alternatives and then they will come to a final decision.
The senior leader pointed out that controversial things like ‘Kabney allowance’ will likely change. He said that the professional allowances for the medical and teaching staff are unlikely to be touched.
He pointed out that mileage reduced fro Nu 16 to 10 per km is quite tricky but he pointed out the bright side that it has been made uniform for all as earlier some got even less.
The senior leader said that personally he is not in favour of the ministers and even MPs taking a pay hike at all, but the final decision on this would be made within the cabinet.