The National Council (NC) as well as the National Assembly (NA) discussed the need for pension for Members of Parliament (MP) after completion of their term during discussions on the Parliamentary Entitlements Rules and Regulation.
Members of the general public – the electorate have received it with raised eyebrows and mixed emotions.
Section 2.2 of the bill states: “A Member of Parliament shall be entitled to avail pension scheme of National Pension and Provident Fund as per the National Pension and Provident Fund Rules and Regulations generally applicable to any salaried employee of any organization.”
The Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of National Pension and Provident Fund (NPPF) Dupthob Wangchuk said only after 56 years a person who has served for 10 years is eligible for pension.
“MPs do not fall under the civil servants or any other organization but they are parliamentarians,” said the NPPF CEO.
He said there are two modules of pension schemes; one through the contribution made by an individual and the other one is through government minimum support.
“MPs can either claim their pension through the government support; otherwise they will not be entitled for pension,” Dupthob Wangchuk said.
“The ultimate question is the sustainability of NPPF, as pension is guaranteed by Government which looks after the welfare of civil servants.”
The parliamentarians on the other hand said that pension is followed in other countries so it should be allowed in Bhutan.
Most of the NA MPs said in order to attract good politicians in future it’s wise to create good prospects for the politicians. NC members equally asserted the need for pension as it would help reduce corruption if the politicians are ‘handsomely’ paid.
“There are so many countries that do not pay pension for MPs and pension is not paid when a person is young which hampers the economic productivity of the country,” said a senior Officer in NPPF.
A private researcher said that everyone should follow the rules and regulation.
“And if the rules allow MPs to have any entitlement then they should be otherwise they should not undermine the convention,” said the researcher.
A Manager in Bhutan Power Corporation (BPC) said that if MPs had demanded pension for the wider benefit and the well being of the democratic system in Bhutan next term then it is very visionary thinking. “if it stems out of personal interest, it is really unbecoming of the MPs as people who sit as people’s representatives and frame laws for the nation,” said the BPC manager.
A Bhutan Development Financial Corporation (BDFC) employee said pension scheme for MPs would be a good idea since it would help to curb corruption.
A Gup in Wangdiphodrang said “Pension is an essential format but there should be deduction from their monthly payment. Not only MPs but also for local elected leaders there should have similar package”.
The Executive Director of Bhutan Media Foundation, Lily Wangchuk said “We should respect the laws and there should not be exceptions for a few people some people”. She observed that there should be a greater reason for joining politics other than a fine pension.
An officer in Bhutan Telecom said “When world is in economic crisis, our MPs are demanding pay revisions and when our country is faced with rupee crunch they are asking for pension”.
“Bhutan cannot be compared to developed countries where MPs are paid pension,” said Laya Gup Kinley Dorji. He said that MPs have always debated on their needs and their welfare a lot instead of discussing people’s problems.