EFC Committee of NA recommends duty vehicles for MPs and reinstates DA and DSA removed in Pay Structure Bill 2022

The Economic and Finance Committee (EFC) of the National Assembly has made major chances to the Pay Structure Reform Bill of Bhutan 2022.

The MPs are not entitled till date for a duty vehicle and driver but in section 63 it now says “An appropriate designated vehicle shall be provided to level EX3 and above including the Members of Parliament.”

If this section gets through then the government will end up buying around 58 duty vehicles for MPs of 2,800 cc plus (minus PM, Cabinet Ministers, Speaker, Chairman and OL) and also hire 58 drivers along with the associated fuel, maintenance and repair costs.

In return the Members of the Parliaments are giving up the driver allowance of Nu 10,000 per month and fuel and maintenance allowance of Nu 10,000 per month too. They are also giving up the Nu 16,665 per month which was to purchase a vehicle (Nu 1 million in five years).

This change by the EFC comes at a time when the Bill had removed vehicle quotas for all public servants from July 2023.

In the Bill the only people eligible for internet data charges were PM, Cabinet Ministers, Chairperson of the National Council, Speaker of the National Assembly, Leader of the Opposition, Heads of Constitutional Offices, Attorney General, Chief Justice of the Supreme Court and the Chairperson of the Privy Council.

The EFC has added that the entitlement of internet data charges for the Members of Parliament shall be Nu. 2,750. This was not there in the bill.

The Bill had removed the overtime session allowance of Nu. 15,000 and Nu. 5,000 per session to staff of the NA, NC and Department of National Budget.

However, the EFC brought this back in a new section through a lump sum of Overtime Session Allowance provided to the staff under the Legislative and Procedural Division and the general staff stationed in the two Secretariats of the Parliament per session and to the staff stationed in the Department of Planning, Budget and Performance during the Budget Session of the National Assembly.

Legislative and Procedural Division stationed in the secretariats of Parliament are to get Nu 2,500 per month, General staff stationed in the secretariats of Parliament are to get Nu 833 per month and Department of Planning, Budget and Performance staff are to get Nu 1250 per month.

The Bill had said all public servants shall not be entitled for DA when both food and lodge is provided for meetings, seminars, trainings and workshops.

Here the EFC has changed it and said all public servants shall not be entitled for 20% DA when both food and lodge is provided for meetings, seminars, trainings and workshops.

The EFC also added a section saying all public servants shall be entitled for 20% DA for in-country travel for public servants accompanying the Prime Minister, Chief Justice of Supreme Court, Speaker of National Assembly, Chairperson of National Council, Leader of Opposition, Cabinet Ministers and Equivalent Positions.

The Bill says DSA shall not be admissible for ex-country travel when food (three meals) and lodge is provided and applies to officials accompanying the Prime Minister, Cabinet Ministers and Equivalent Position Holders.

EFC has changed this is to say 20% DSA shall be admissible for ex-country travel when food (three meals) and lodge is provided and applies to officials accompanying the Prime Minister, Cabinet Ministers and Equivalent Position Holders for incidental expenses.

The Bill had said that the existing 100% DA for in-country travel for public servants accompanying the Prime Minister, Chief Justice of Supreme Court, Speaker of National Assembly, Chairperson of National Council, Leader of Opposition, Cabinet Ministers and Equivalent Positions shall be discontinued.

It also said the eligibility of 50% DA when both food and lodge are provided shall be discontinued.

The Bill also said the existing 50% DSA for ex-country travel for public servants accompanying the Prime Minister, Chief Justice of Supreme Court, Speaker of National Assembly, Chairperson of National Council, Leader of Opposition, Cabinet Ministers and Equivalent Positions shall be discontinued.

The EFC has removed all the three sections above.

The EFC has included ACC Commissioners in the category of 20% professional allowance for ACC staff.

The Bill had said the lump sum TA/DA for local government functionaries for travel within the Gewog (both non-motorable and motorable road) shall be Nu 1,500 per month for Gups, Nu 1,125 per month for Mangmi and Nu 500 per month for Tshogpa.

The EFC has removed this section and said it will be as per section 98 which says it will be Nu 1,500 per day for Gups and Mangmi and Nu 1,000 per day for Tshogpas.

The Bill said that Nurses and Clinical Staff (including Menpas) allowance shall be a lump sum amount between 35% to 55% of the minimum pay scale based on the number of years served.

Here the EFC has added an additional lump sum amount up to 10% of the basic pay may be provided to Scarce and Critical service staff.

As per the Bill the ceiling for the carriage charges for personal effects during transfer and retirement is Nu 55,000 for Executive and above, Nu 27,000 for P-1 or SS-1 to P-5 or SS-4 and Nu 15,000 for SS-1 and below.

The EFC has increased this to Nu 80,000 for Executives, Nu 40,000 for P-1 or SS-1 to P-5 or SS-4 and Nu 20,000 for S-1 and below.

There are then some minor changes in the allowances for diplomats and till when they can claim them.

The above changes by the EFC is being deliberated in the NA today and tomorrow.

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