The porter and pony expenses claimed by civil servants residing in the remote areas connected to farm roads was discussed during the 11th Meet-the-Press held on August 28.
The discussion stemmed from the recent decision issued in Zhemgang where civil servants working in the remote areas connected to the road point would no longer be eligible to claim the porter and pony charges. However, most civil servants in remote areas say there is a need for porter and pony as the farm roads are in a bad condition.
As per the Bhutan Civil Service Rules and Regulation 2012, “While on tour in areas where there is no road communication, a civil servant shall be entitled to hire charges of ponies/mules or porter charges.” And, “Where there is road, but lacks public transport, agency concerned shall arrange transport for officials on official duty or provide hire charges, including for roadblocks due to natural calamities during the travel.”
However, the Home Minister, Damchoe Dorji, said that as per the last salary and TA/DA and allowances revision, the porter and pony charges can only be made on the actual claim. Lyonpo Damchoe Dorji said the civil servants are still claiming for the porter and pony charges even though there are roads connected to the gewog centers. “I don’t know what is fair and what is not fair,” he said.
He said the remote places in the country, like Gasa has road connectivity up to the Gasa Dzong, however, the civil servants still claim the porter and pony charges although they travel from Punakha to Gasa in their own cars or taxis.
The Home Minister said the civil servants are entitled to hire porter and pony in a non-road connectivity places and claim the actual expenses as per the recent revision. For example, while travelling from Gasa to Laya, the average charge is Nu 500 per day per pony but the government entitled rule is Nu 300. Thereby, civil servants can claim the only the actual charge.
On the Zhemgang decision, to limit porter and pony charges, Lyonpo said they must have made the resolution based on the fact that many of the places which were earlier accessed via porter and pony are now connected by roads and one can travel by car.