One of the contentious issues discussed in the National Assembly this time was a motion moved by the Dewathang-Gomdar MP Ugyen Dorji asking the government to increase the retirement age of civil servants from 56 and 58 to 60 for all civil servants.
The motion was only narrowly defeated as it got 17 yes and 17 no votes with 6 abstaining.
The Prime Minister in an interview to the paper said that a NA motion is not the way to change the BCSR regulations of a Constitutional Body like the RCSC, and the government instead will look at the retirement age of civil servants as a part of the larger National HR policy.
The PM said, “We are drawing an overall national human resource policy and I have tasked Ministry of Labour on it. That should include how the private sector should be supported, how an entrepreneur should be supported, how a farmer should be supported. In that big basket of HR policy civil servants will be one chapter and they will be handled by the RCSC. The Retirement age should be reflected there.”
“When we say HR it means age of entry, age of retirement and pensionable age and both of theses are two different things. In many countries they are the same but they are not synonymous,” added the PM.
The PM said the ministry is reviewing this and it could come as part of a policy or it could be in an Act or an amendment of one of the Acts.
Lyonchhen said the study itself is a suggestion from the OD exercise of the RCSC.
He said that everybody is saying that retirement age was made earlier and now our life expectancy has gone up to 72 and that it is time to increase, and he agrees.
But he said that life expectancy is just one part of the calculation. The PM said it should also be country’s economy and country’s literacy rate and civil servants number of years in service.
The PM said that the ages 56, 58 and 60 were made when civil servants entered at the age of 27 and 28 as back then that was the average age of graduates but now they all enter at 21 and 22.
He said the pension says that civil servants will contribute in pensions for 30 years because when one enters at 27 and 28 then one would have served for 30 years by 57 and 58.
“If that guy enters at 21 and 22 he is contributing only until 51 and 52 and pension will have to cough out the balance. There are more complications and which is why we are doing research and it is already being studied,” said the PM.
The Prime Minister also highlighted the pitfalls of the motion passing in the NA.
He said he has been very apolitical on the civil servant’s retirement age.
He said the RCSC Act clearly says that civil servants must follow the rules and regulations drafted by the commission. BCSR 2018 says that civil servants will retire 56, 58 and 60.
The PM pointed out that the motion was problematic as it says that the government must review this retirement age from time to time and it also says that all retirement age must be made 60.
He said the government has no authority to review civil servants as it is the RCSC Commission that will review them.
The PM said that the Parliament’s job is to give the act and amend the act. “We have given the act to the Commission which through the act is empowered to design the rules and regulations like BCSR 2018. After that government cannot decide,” he added.
He said the resolution should have instead said that the government should discuss with the RCSC Commission or RCSC Commission will look at the retirement age from time to time. He said it is good if its is done this way and it is something they are already doing.
The PM said that the government supports increasing the age of retirement but not in this way.
He said if this motion got through and if Parliament could push RCSC to raise all 56 and 58 retirement age to 60 then it can also be possible where he can ask one of his MPs to run a motion in the Parliament saying all executive promotion must be done in consultation with cabinet.
He said the government has enough MPs to pass the motion and the next day RCSC will come to him saying they want a Director of Revenue and Customs and he could put up any name.
“If this motion was passed it nearly gave the Prime Minister a huge authority to actually fix RCSC,” argued the PM.
The PM said that the Dewathang-Gomdar MP said that regulations can be changed anytime as the retirement age is not in the Act. He said the MP is correct and through the resolution they can change the regulations but they have to be mindful of the institutions.
“BCSR is made by RCSC which is a Constitutional office. If that regulation is made by any ministry, then the government of the day can change it anytime but this regulation is totally different. We should not play with this regulation and instead let RCSC decide.”
“We wanted to support and I could have easily made it 60 and made everybody happy and people who benefit will be grateful to me, but if we do it this like this then we are making a big mistake,” said the PM.
“Before we actually undo a lot of good democratic institutions that we have in place. If this provision of BCSR is changed through a resolution then all provisions of BCSR can be stabbed by running a motion,” he added.
The PM said that the retirement age is handled differently in different countries and some have a range of retirement ages while for some it is flat. He said almost all countries did it in a staggered manner increasing the retirement age over a number of years instead of suddenly and he said in his view it must be staggered.
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