Allowing allowances

Last month, when, at the end of the Parliament’s Fourth Session, the National Assembly approved salary increases for MPs, I had complained that:

Parliament does not have the powers to consider or grant pay increases unilaterally. Instead, according to the Constitution, it’s the Pay Commission’s job to recommend increases in the salaries and allowances of public servants. And that includes us, politicians.

Now we hear that the Cabinet has approved allowances (equal to 45% of their basic salaries) for “ACC investigators and related professionals”. The Prime Minister had, in fact, announced that ACC employees would be given allowances, but the National Assembly neither discussed nor approved the allowances.

So we risk bypassing the Pay Commission again.

There’s no doubt that the ACC is critically important – in our fight against corruption, they operate in the front lines. And there’s no doubt that all of us must render any and all support to this crucial organization.

But let’s follow procedure. Let’s establish the Pay Commission. Let’s let them do their job. Let’s follow the law.

Article 30 of the Constitution states that:

  1. There shall be a Pay Commission, headed by a Chairperson, which shall be autonomous and shall be constituted, from time to time, on the recommendation of the Prime Minister.
  2. The Pay Commission shall recommend to the Government revisions in the structure of the salary, allowances, benefits, and other emoluments of the Royal Civil Service, the Judiciary, the members of Parliament and Local Governments, the holders and the members of constitutional offices and all other public servants with due regard to the economy of the Kingdom and other provisions of this Constitution.
  3. The recommendations of the Commission shall be implemented only on the approval of the Lhengye Zhungtshog and subject to such conditions and modifications as may be made by Parliament.

 

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  1. It would be interesting to know who would nominate the members of the Pay Commission and how would the autonomy of the Pay Commission be ensured in a country so small and conflict of interest being a common thing in the day-to-day affairs. For a small country I also think that we have too many Committees and now Commissions. I have heard that each member of the NC and many MPs are in fact the chairman of numberous committees. But apart of the nomenclaturemania, the efficiency of such committees is something that needs to be looked into. I think paying good allowances and salary to the officials of institutions such as ACC is of utmost importance to provide moral support and motivate them to perform efficiently without fear and prejudice. Even their lives are at risk. But I do not know whether it is constitutional or unconstitutional. I believe the public is now getting tired of hearing these words mentioned in every newspaper, blogs and journals. Being at the initial stage of democracy, I believe we still do not have many of the institutions (as mentioned in the Constitution) in place and therefore such issues are coming up. But to a common men and women of this country how much does it harm or benefit from such actions is not known and will never be known. But definitely the benefits should outweigh the risks, no matter whether it is constitutional or uncontitutional.

  2. We will see a long chain of unfortunate events in our democracy because we have put the roof on the house before even building a strong foundation for it.

    • Dear Tangba: the “long chain of unfortunate events” that you speak of is part of our democracy’s foundation. How we handle the “events”, how we learn from them, and how we move on, will determine the strength of the foundation. The roof? That will come later. Between today’s foundation and tomorrow’s roof you’ll find a lot of work…work that is important, but work that is fun. So, let’s enjoy our democracy. Let’s enjoy the journey, together. tt

      • I am not at all surprised to hear that from you, honorable OL, after all, most of our Bhutanese people, especially the leaders, are accustomed to doing things over and over again rather than doing it nicely for once and for all.

        I am just afraid with just the two of you there in the National Assembly, no matter how much you bark there, you can do nothing but to acknowledge to the chain of unfortunate events in the end. Let’s just not talk about enjoying our democracy yet. We all wish to enjoy our democracy but I think it’s too soon to say that now. Let’s wait and see. Time will tell it all.

      • Dear Tangba: unless we enjoy the journey, the destination will hardly be worth it. We’ve just begun this long journey called democracy. It’s difficult. It’s frustrating. And, many times I feel desperate…I feel like screaming. After all, as you correctly point out, there’s just two of us in the opposition, and sometimes I do feel hopeless–like you put it: “no matter how much you bark there, you an do nothing but to acknowledge to the chain of unfortunate events”. Still, if bark is all I have, I will bark. And bark as loud and as often as it takes to be heard. I’m sure of one thing though: the moment I stop “enjoying the journey”, I would have lost the ability to even bark! Tshering

  3. At times I am given to think wild thoughts that our Parliamentarians are mandated to visit this blog and base their decisions on barkings(?) we make and hear here. Many are geniune and ‘constitutional’.

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