Following the recent pay hike for civil servants in July, most workers in the private sector were hopeful of a pay hike as well. But most of the private companies that this paper interviewed said that they are not in the position to increase the pay for their workers due to the poor economic condition in the country.
The Secretary General, Bhutan Chamber of Commerce and Industry (BCCI), Phub Tshering, there is no policy it should revise the salary in the private sector. He said the pay hike is dependent on profit that a company can make.
“I don’t think this pay hike of the civil servant will have any effect on inflation. Everybody thinks that when there is a pay revision for civil servants then all the price of commodities increase, but it is up to the market force today.”
BCCI is promoting the import substitution of local products to decrease the inflation in the country.
“The only way for government to support the private sector is by creating conducive environment to increase the profitability of the private sector, then only can the private sector pay their employees,” Phub Tshering said
The Managing Director, Tashi Info Comm Ltd., Tashi Tshering, said, “As of now, we do not have plans to revise the pay of our staff as the company is not making money and the profit. Our company is having a difficult time.”
The Director, Lhaki Group of Companies, Tashi, said, “I don’t have an idea about the pay revision of the employee. Due to the economy crises, before we used get salary on time, but now, we get on 15th (day) of the month.”
Tashi said the growth of private companies is difficult due to the increasing cost of operation, such as the tariff on electricity. He said the private companies have had to reduce the number of staff to increase the profit of the company. “When we reduce the staff then the employment opportunity reduces. Due to the economy crises, we have a chance to lose jobs rather than increase in the pay,” Tashi added.
The Chief Executive Officer, Journalist Private Ltd, Sonam Gyeltshen, said, “For the growth of the private sector, we should have sustainability of the company and we don’t have sustainability, then how we can revise the pay of the staff. We are dependent on the government advertisement, but we are getting only few advertisements from government, and I cannot pay salaries on the time, forgot about the pay hike of my staff.”
The Managing Director, Bhutan Today,Tashi Tshering, said, “ First thing, we should make our private sector dynamic because at the end the private sector has to pay the taxed and when private sector is very weak, there is no question of raising the pay.”
He said there has been a downsizing of staff in the private sector in the last four years, an indication that the economy is in a bad condition. “Was the pay revision for civil servant and taxation imposed in the right time? If it is a right time then it would mean the economy has capacity to cope up with inflation,” Tashi Tshering added.
He said he has not been able to pay the staff on a regular basis and the revenue that comes into his company hardly meets the expenditure costs.
An employee in the private sector, Ngawang, said he is paid Nu 6,500 per month and does not have any other work benefit. He said he is struggling to get by on his meager earnings in the face of rising inflation in the market. “There are increases in the price of the goods in the market, which I think it is due to the pay hike of the civil servants and it affects the people working in the private sector.”