During the Question and Answer Session at the National Assembly (NA) yesterday, MP of Nanong-Shumar constituency asked a question to the Finance Minister on whether the National Work Force Wage Rate will be increased to Nu 450, as pledged by the government.
Finance Minister, Namgay Tshering, said when the government was formed, they thought that they would have to enhance the minimum wage rate to Nu 450 per day.
Lyonpo said that a person requires a minimum Nu 280 per day to lead a standard life and meet the cost of basic necessities.
Lyonpo also said that as an initiative towards enhancing the daily minimum wage rate, the government revised the pay to a larger proportion of pay increase to the lower ranking officials and lesser for the higher ranking officials in 2019, unlike the earlier trend of giving standard percentage across all board which meant the lower ranking officials benefited less as compared to the higher ranking officials.
During the pay revision, the highest percentage point made by the government was to the Elementary Service Personals (ESP), the lowest ranking official in public service.
Lyonpo said that it was the very first step for gearing towards enhancing the daily minimum wage rate to Nu 450.
“Every individual working under BBP is getting Nu 15,000 per month though it is not made above the ceiling the minimum, they are getting Nu 15,000 and when it is broken into daily wage every individual is getting Nu 500 per day, which is also way above Nu 450, and that is the second measure taken to increase the wage rate,” said Lyonpo.
During the COVID-19 pandemic because of the cost escalation in the construction material, the Ministry of Works and Human Settlement (MOWHS) revised the Bhutan Schedule Rate (BSR), and also because of the shortage of the skilled laborers, in 2020 when MOWHS revised the BSR, the BSR captured the wage component, so even if the workers work else in the private sector, the minimum wage rate that should be paid is Nu 460 per day which was addressed by the BSR, Lyonpo added.
“We have addressed the daily minimum wage rate by enhancing the rate of Nu 125 to Nu 450, and just like the policy without doing all these things gradually, in a phased manner, keeping in mind that private sectors will be impacted, and as a result the cost of construction will also go up and the private sector will not be willing to pay for the unskilled labor. If they are paying Nu 300 per day now, and if the government asks them to pay Nu 450, who can sustain? So we have to weigh the pros and cons,” added Lyonpo.
Lyonpo further said that whatever the government can do under the purview of government, they have done by revising the BSR and introducing the BBP. He said that it is easy to sign a policy, and the people will have to adapt the policy once it is set, but it is also important to take into the consideration that the cost of construction will definitely shoot up. Secondly, it will have a severe impact on the people who are paying Thrim Thue in lieu of imprisonment term. Presently the Thrim Thue paid is Nu 125 per day, but suddenly if the person who is paying Thrim Thue will be asked to pay Nu 450, he/she will have severe problem because it is 3 times more, and also in divorce cases the Sothey will also be impacted, especially for those who has no monthly payment, therefore, there will be ramifications.