Officials of the Royal Civil Service Commission have clarified that the main reason for bringing reforms to the Supervisory and Support Category (S&S category) was to address stagnation faced by the large majority of civil servants in this category who provide important services.
Prior to the reform, career movement in the S&S Category was based on entry level and qualification and only up to a certain level. In fact, pre-reform, 7,429 civil servants could go up to S1/P5 only according to the RCSC.
With the reform all the civil servants in S&S category, irrespective of entry level or qualification up gradation, but subject to minimum performance, now have a smooth career movement up to SS1.
Regarding the recognition of bachelor’s degree, the RCSC chairperson, Dasho Karma Tshiteem, said, “the reforms undertaken did not affect the status of civil servants in the S&S Category who have upgraded and obtained a Bachelor’s Degree that is even pre-reform. Those who were given the opportunity to upgrade their qualifications did so on the understanding that it will not lead to automatic up gradation of their position level into the Professional & Management Category (P&M Category).”
As a result, they had to sit for the Bhutan Civil Service Examinations and only those who were successful entered the P&M Category.
There are 11,248 civil servants in S&S Category. Since 2008, a total of 1,118 S&S category in-service with bachelor degree sat for Bhutan Civil Service Examinations (BCSE). Of this only 417 were selected and currently there are 718 civil servants who have bachelors and remain in S&S category.
The chairperson said those complaining make it appear like the reforms have disadvantaged them, which is not true. “RCSC continues to uphold the integrity of the merit-based entry into the P&M Category by bringing into this group only those who are successful in the BCSE,” said Dasho Karma Tshiteem. “They were remapped such that they are in comparable position levels of SS4/SS3/SS2 but with the benefit of being able to rise one position level SS1 equivalent in pay and benefits to P2.Their position titles and responsibilities remain unchanged.”
The chairperson said such remapping was necessary to reduce the confusion caused by mixing of the P&M category and the S&S category for human resource management and reporting.
On the promotion duration increased to 5 years, from S1 to SS4 and above, the chairperson said the reform was determined taking into consideration the average age civil servants in the S&S category enters the civil service, smooth career progression into SS position levels & the superannuation age for the entire group.
The increase has been seen more than compensated by the additional career advancement opportunities for everyone in the group. “Calculations will also clearly show that even for the civil servants in S&S Category who entered civil service at S1&S2 and can now go up to SS1, the reform is more beneficial since the higher pay at the end of their career will translate into significantly enhanced retirement benefits, such as gratuity and the pension,” said the chairperson. “All consulted agreed that the new system would be better for all, five-year promotion duration notwithstanding.”
The chairperson said that as far as uniformity in rules is concerned, the comparable category for the new SS positions would be the Ex positions for the P&M category. There, the minimum period required is 5-6 years where about 300 civil servants out of a total of 13,077 reach this category.
“In fact most of the civil servants in the P&M Category reach P1 only. Under the reforms, S&S category civil servants can now reach P2.” he said adding “It should be evident that what the Commission has introduced is fairer to all concerned, provides sufficient incentives while addressing a major problem.”
On the Vested Right Principle the chairperson mentioned that the present Commission clarified that it has not introduced any new Vested Rights in the present reforms. He said the Vested Rights that is being referred to is the legacy of the Position Classification System that was implemented in 2006, where civil servants were placed in the Officers career because of the fact that they were holding a particular position.
“There are a total of 1,944 civil servants who have benefitted from the Vested Right principle, of whom 1514 are teachers. Therefore, there can be no question ten years later of being affected by this concept,” he said.
Prior to the reform, the RCSC issued certificate of eligibility for candidates in the general category that met the cut-off percentage of the BCSE main examination result but were not selected, for possible recruitment by Agencies to S1 position level. With the reform, the existing civil servants who had entered through Eligibility Certificate were remapped as P5B.
“The reason for doing so is that even pre-reforms, they were on the same career path as BCSE select unlike the S&S category people, except that they started one level lower (at S1),” the chairperson explained.
The present commission has already done away with issuing the certificate of eligibility to graduates since 2014. Since then, all recruitment into the P&M category has been BCSE selected graduates.
More than 2000 civil servants were consulted of which 1200 were from S&S category and Operational category to discuss the reform. “The BCSS team over seven months visited 19 dzongkhags, held separate sessions for S&S category, carried out consultation with P1 level Chiefs, as well as executives according to the RCSC. HROs were specifically instructed to present and provide feedback on the reforms.
“The RCSC hopes and expects all civil servants to continue to support its efforts to make the Royal Civil Service a place where all those responding to the calling of public service, are able to unleash their full potential in the service of King, Country and People.” Dasho Karma Tshiteem said.
He also said that as servants of the state, who must always remain apolitical, the RCSC is extremely disappointed that certain civil servants have approached the Prime Minister with the grievances on the reform.