In response to the Opposition’s criticism of the government’s Pay Revision Bill, the government reminded the opposition about when it was in power and how the pay raise was done along with the impacts that it had brought in.
Lyonpo Tandi Dorji said, “Everyone is aware of the impact of the pay raise. The total budget for the 10th plan passed by the opposition was Nu 147 billion (2008) with fiscal deficit of 10 per cent. When they ended their tenure they still had a deficit of 7.5 per cent which is equal to Nu 4 billion. When the country was having deficit of 4 bn, they provided the pay raise of Nu 5 bn and this is the same party who is questioning us on raising the pay when the country’s economy is not good, but the country’s economy is much better than what it was during their time.”
He said, “How can the party that did worse question us because we still have 5 years. While starting the government, our fiscal deficit is 4 per cent and by the end of fiscal year we are thinking that the fiscal deficit will be only 3 per cent.”
“If we compare the 10th and 12th plans, we can say that we are doing far better than them and even if we compare the GDP, on average the GDP during their time was 6 per cent and it dropped to 3 per cent in 2013 which is considered as lowest in the history of Bhutan. Ours is doing perfectly fine,” said the minister.
He said the international media including the local Bhutanese media is praising the government for the decisions on the pay revision, but the Opposition fails to see the positive impact it has brought to two very important professions.
Referring to DPT’s tenure Lyonpo said, “Will taking Prados along with the vehicle quota, having the highest pay for them and demanding perks and privileges narrow the gap”.
The opposition had questioned the government for sidelining the Pay Commission, the sustainability of the hike, favoring of certain professional groups over others and the impact it will bring, when all the economic indicators of the country are negative.
Lyonpo Tandi Dorji said that the pay revision report was first submitted by the Pay Commission and subsequently amended by the government, which was later submitted to the National Assembly’s Economic and Finance Committee where there are equal members from the ruling and the opposition party. “We then deliberated on the recommendation of the committee.”
The minister said that from the voting results it was clear the Opposition party had also voted for the pay revision.
There were 37 yes votes and two no votes with five absent votes. Lyonpo Tandin said DNT has just 29 MPs in Parliament (minus the speaker who casts his vote during a tie.)
With 47 MPs in Parliament the total above show that only 45 were present in Parliament during the vote.
Lyonpo said that the government was indeed surprised to see how the opposition’s view on the decision of the government has changed right after parliament session because the opposition agreed with and supported government’s decision while in the parliament. Lyonpo said, “We have increased the pay for higher group only by a certain percent and increased the salary of low income group substantially and we have seen how the ESP and GSP people have come to thank us for giving them pay raise and pension, and an opportunity to enhance their lives.”
“Similarly, we have seen teachers and health staff who have taken EOL rushing back to join the profession because we have increased their pay,” Lyonpo said.
Lyonpo Tandi said that while the government has always looked forward to the opposition to work together for the interest of the people and the country, the opposition on the other hand has always wanted to oppose.
“The role of opposition is not only to oppose but also to support government’s decision.”