Long Term Training civil servants demand clarification and equity over pay hike

Public servants undergoing Long-Term Training (LTT) have expressed their concerns and confusion surrounding their eligibility for the recent 50 percent raise. The Bhutan Civil Service Rules and Regulations (BCSR) of 2018, which entitle LTT participants to certain benefits, have generated misconceptions due to the method of calculation based on the individual’s basic pay.

The recent 50 percent raise has been a topic of discussion and debate among LTT civil servants, as they were uncertain about how it affected their basic pay. The core of the issue stems from the fact that the raise is calculated as a percentage of the existing basic pay, not as a direct revision to the basic pay.

The primary objective of the pay revision, as outlined in the report, is to ensure that public servants can maintain a reasonable standard of living with their salaries and to motivate and retain talented individuals in the public service.

According to those undergoing LTT, the pay comparison between two teachers of the same grade, one undergoing LTT and the other not, reveals a gap of more than Nu 20,000, causing a feeling of disparity among those undergoing LTT.

As per the notification issued by the Ministry of Finance on 16 August 2023, it is clarified that LTT civil servants are eligible for basic pay, house rent allowance, and LTC (Leave Travel Concession) as per the BCSR 2018. “Since there is no revision in the basic pay and the house rent, there shall be no changes in the payment of entitlements (basic pay & house rent) for public servants on LTT.”

However, those undergoing LTT claim that there are no changes in the basic pay and house rent for any civil servants. Therefore, the logic behind the exclusion of LTTs from the pay revision remains unclear, as the primary objective was to ensure a reasonable standard of living for all public servants.

Furthermore, as per the BCSR 2018 section, “Allowance of any form shall cease to be paid during LTT, except House Rent Allowance which shall be as per Section” and section, “A civil servant on LTT shall be paid full HRA for the first 12 months and 50 percent for the remaining period.”  Civil servants on LTT will not be entitled to Professional Allowance.

One of the class representatives stated that, since professional allowance is included under Monthly Variable Compensation (MVC), the government has moved on to exclude LTTs from 50 percent Pay Revision, One-off Fixed Payment, and One-off 5 percent Indexation.

In response, a group of students from Paro College shared that it is important to note that for in-service teachers undergoing in-country LTT, the non-entitlement of the professional allowance primarily affects the teaching allowance, which is not being claimed by civil servants on LTT.

The confusion arises from the misunderstanding that a 50 percent raise implies a 50 percent increase in the basic pay. However, the raise is intended to be a percentage of the basic pay, in line with the BCSR guidelines. Therefore, public servants on LTT feel they are indeed eligible for the 50 percent raise, as it represents an increase in income based on their existing basic pay.

A Civil servant from Paro College undergoing LTT shared that the issue has been raised with the Prime Minister, Education Minister, Opposition Leader, RCSC, and Finance Minister. “While they assured us that they would discuss the matter, it has been nearly two months since we initiated this appeal, and we are yet to receive any information regarding our eligibility for the 50 percent raise for LTT,” he added.

One of the civil servants undergoing LTT at Samtse College said, “There is no equity, equality, fairness, or justice if one section of civil servants is treated differently.” He shared that, it feels like a social experiment, where the field medium is the place with inflation and a high cost of living and the in-country civil servants are part of a controlled experiment provided by Nu 35,104, and other civil servants are provided with pay revision of Nu 57,863.

A first-year M.Ed. student from Paro College said, “It is truly disheartening to hear the government’s decision to deny civil servants on LTT a much-anticipated 50 percent pay raise,” When such promises are made and subsequently broken, it not only affects our financial well-being but also our morale and motivation, which will have negative consequences on overall productivity. In situations like these, the government must ensure fairness in its policies.

Another student from M.Ed. Mathematics 1st Year said, “The government’s failure to discuss the 50 percent pay raise for LTT students in the Parliament is indeed a cause for concern.” He shared that, as teachers, they play a vital role in shaping the nation’s future through education. Denying them this pay raise, not only affects their morale, but also undermines the importance of education and professional development. “I feel that neglecting this issue may unconsciously hinder the overall progress of the education system, and, consequently, the nation as a whole,” he added.

The new pay revision was seen as a beacon of hope for such professionals, providing motivation and validating their dedication. However, the exclusion of LTT civil servants from the revision has cast a shadow of inequity, leaving them disheartened and questioning the fairness and justice of the system.

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