The state owned enterprises are expected to get their salary hike proposals cleared by the cabinet within this month, following the footsteps of their cousins in the civil service.
It is always amazing to see politicians and civil servants being so generous among themselves with tax-payers’ money and the resources of the public.
The private sector which is already facing the impact of the civil service pay hike will now get a double whammy with the increase in pay of SOEs, many of whom compete with the private sector, with the added advantage of government resources and backing.
For all the slogans about private sector development across three governments -the ground reality is that Bhutan’s privates sector, while employing the bulk of the population after farming, is weak.
Our farmers themselves are still struggling with issues from irrigation to lack of access to sell their crops.
Bhutan’s development path is dangerously government heavy from hydropower to the massive consumption of government resources by the government itself.
The result we see today is that the bulk of hydropower revenue is used to finance the pay hikes of the politically influential public servants.
The civil service is bloated and growing with no change in work culture and little to show by way of efficiency or improved public service.
A look at the last three plan periods will show the ever growing and insatiable consumption of the government budget by the government machinery itself.
The government machinery now has become so big and powerful and so self-congratulatory that it is losing sight of its original and main mandate of serving the people of Bhutan.
His Majesty The King in the National Day address last year pointed to this large size of the public service and how it can make or break Bhutan.
It will do well for our politicians and civil servants to remember that they, in theory at least, are supposed to serve the people and not the other way round which is what is currently happening.
“Democracy is two wolves and a lamb voting on what they are going to have for lunch. Liberty is a well-armed lamb contesting the vote.”