Reform teams discuss Civil Servants pay and incentives for performers

But no pay hike in the horizon given limited resources

Until now the Civil Servants have mainly been seeing the stick end of the civil service reforms, be it in the managing out of the executives or the strict Rules for Administrative Disciplinary Actions (RADA).

However, it may not all be stick as the reform teams comprising of senior executives and officials from Ministry of Finance have been broadly discussing the need to improve the salary slab of all civil servants.

There is also discussion in terms of looking at additional performance incentives to be given to performers.

One discussion within this is also that while civil servants get promoted on merit and go higher up the ladder there isn’t enough financial incentive for their performance.

Another idea being discussed is to have market level pay for certain professionals who are in short supply.

This would also be a way to retain performers and key people and avoid a brain drain.

A source said this system is already there in countries like Singapore, Australia, New Zealand etc where one Director may be getting more pay than the other based on individual performance.

The next question is how this will be paid for especially at a time when the economy is not doing well and when there is a major gap between government revenue and expenditure.

The source said this is at a discussion stage and not finalized and will be subject to presentation and approval.

However, one area from which funds can come is the savings generated from the very reform process in terms of the expenses reduced from the merger of organizations and functions. There will also be savings in manpower as the merger of organizations and reforms will mean that not many new people have to be hired.

There will be other savings through the cleaning of the system in terms of TA/DA, short term trainings, ex-country travel, hidden perks etc which add up to a significant amount.

The aim is to also generate saving from the prudential use of public resources.

It was found that in one instance a civil servant was making around Nu 500,000 a year just from TA/DA.

This is also where the proposed ‘Clean Wage’ system comes up where civil servants are paid a clear and transparent salary which includes all allowances instead of having a multitude of hidden allowances.

The Clean Wage system could by itself potentially lead to slightly higher pay for civil servants if enough savings and proper distribution can be done through it.

In 2021-2022 agencies ended up spending Nu 2.993 billion (bn) on ‘trainings-others’ which is short term trainings, seminars, conferences, workshops etc and Nu 2.280 bn on professional services or ‘consultancies.’

If the agencies are clubbed together and unnecessary short term trainings or conferences and also consultancies are cut down the that itself would have significant savings.

The TA/DA budget has always been well above Nu 1 bn in the past and there can be savings here too by cutting down fake tours or unnecessary ones.

At the moment, given the current financial condition of the country, civil servants should not expect a pay raise for the foreseeable future as it will also depend on the resources available, but when they do become available with hydro projects coming in line or the economy improving this will be looked at.

The next question will be in terms of how performing civil servants will be recognized.

Here a source said that the current Individual Work Plan (IWP) will be improved upon so that the performance evaluation can differentiate performance between individuals.

As a step towards that the IWP earlier depended in part on the score of the agency, but going forward the IWP will focus more on the performance of the individual.

The leader or manager will have an important part to play in setting realistic targets and not ones that are too easy or something unachievable.

The IWP, unlike in the past, will also not wait till the end of the year for scoring, but the manager will constantly check.

With the aim for Bhutan to become a High Income Nation or a developed one by 2030 a key component will be efficient civil services, and so to become a developed country one needs the infrastructure of which a core component will be the civil service and its services.

A source said the aim is to enhance and develop competencies. For this trainings will no longer be about name sake ones with the main aim being shopping in Bangkok, but there will be targeted trainings provided and civil servants are expected to give their best performance after these trainings.

The civil service will aim to be a compact one and efforts will be made to retain talent otherwise others who are not efficient and want to leave will not be stopped.

The aim is also to have an agile civil service where civil servants can multitask in multiple areas.

The source said that the reforms are proposing among other things a Central Planning Organization which will do strategic planning for the whole of Bhutan especially now that GNHC is proposed to be divided up between the PMO and Ministry of Finance.

So if an agency has an officer or a person who has seasonal work or is not that busy the whole time then that person can be temporarily used in this Central Planning Organization.

This planning body will not go the old way of some general civil servants planning for everybody, but it will aim to pull in different experts and specialists from various fields like engineers, architects, legal officers etc. 

When civil servants leave new ones will not be hired easily and while civil servants will not be managed out those not following the RADA rules or violating them will be held accountable.

The mandate of each agency will also be redefined under the restructuring and there will be better coordination among agencies.

The RCSC and the executives involved in the reform made a presentation to the cabinet on the restructuring and reforms and clean wage last week, and the cabinet members made suggestions which are being incorporated, and it will be presented back to the cabinet again soon.

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