LHAKPA TSHERING | Thimphu
The bill on pay restructures reform was adopted by the National Assembly (NA) with all 42 members present in the House voting in favor on 2 December.
However, it once again removed the communication allowances for parliamentarians, constitutional heads, and other heads along with civil servants, recommended by the National Council to reinstate it as per the original clause.
The council’s recommendation to reinstate it contradicts the NA’s decision to remove it after Prime Minister Dasho Dr. Lotay Tshering made the submission to the House to discontinue all communication allowance including internet charges.
The chairperson of the Economic and Finance Committee, Gangzur-Minjey’s Member of Parliament, Kinga Penjor, said they could not accept the recommendation considering the current economic situation of the country.
He said that the committee engaged in a lengthy discussion on the recommendation and decided not to accept it. “This is also a time the country does not have enough money,” he said.
“The total expenditure of communication allowance comes close to Nu 37 million and for local government leaders, it is Nu 354,000. It incurs a huge financial burden on the government that can’t even construct a new bridge,” he added.
The House also agreed on the new section recommended by the National Council to provide designated duty vehicles or a onetime lump-sum grant for the purchase of a vehicle along with the driver, and fuel and maintenance allowances for the Members of Parliament.
The designated duty vehicles will be maintained at the current level to position level EX3 and above (SUV with FWD up to 2,800 cc) until reviewed and rationalized by the government.
However, the government will have the option of whether to designate duty vehicles or give the onetime grant along with the Nu 10,000 as driver allowance, and another Nu 10,000 as fuel and maintenance allowances.
Prime Minister Dasho Dr. Lotay Tshering said that since the pool vehicle reform is underway, it will give a clear picture on whom and where to provide small and big duty vehicles.
“The current trend is that big vehicles are being provided to the higher post holders which should be actually provided to those using bad road conditions,” Lyonchhen said, adding that driving a small car is enough on good roads.
In addition, the parliament also agreed on the new section on overtime session allowance (OSA) recommended by the National Council.
This allowance will be provided to staffs under the legislative and procedural division and the general staff stationed in the two secretariats of the Parliament, and the staff of the department of planning, budget and performance during the budget session of the National Assembly.
Meanwhile, the House incorporated 10 of the 12 recommendations of the National Council except for sections 16 and 48 concerning communication and radiation allowances.