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Bhutan Observer
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Pension policy needs revision
Wangay, June 30, 2013
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 I humbly appealed to the National Pension and Provident Fund (NPPF) on June 11, 2013, to consider payment of lump sum benefit for me. MrSonamYeshey, the head of NPPF, was kind enough to clearly explain to me the policies and rules of availing oneself of the benefits. Thank you for your clarifications. However, I am sharing a few suggestions for policy revision and improvement for future civil servants of Bhutan.

At a certain point, it is very disheartening to know the rules that most civil servants do not know. They need to know. Most people resign knowing nothing about the retirement benefits they will draw. My case is one example that every resigning civil servant should be aware of.

After serving for 21 years in various schools, I voluntarily resigned on April 4 this year. Of course, I laid claims to my retirement benefits and received a cheque of Nu 204,245, which is very small. It is very sad and unfortunate to know that I served for 21 years in the civil service, yet I didn’t qualify for lump sum benefit. Moreover, I was asked to wait for another six years to avail myself of monthly pension because I am below 51 years of age. Which means, I am neither entitled to lump sum benefit, nor to monthly pension. The charm of having been a civil servant for a long time vanishes all of a sudden.

There is no point in raising this issue for myself, but this retirement benefit policy needs to be looked at for the benefit of the serving civil servants. This issue needs immediate attention from the two houses of Parliament. I, for one, feel a bit lost having to wait for my pension for six long years after my resignation. Life and death is uncertain and unpredictable. We do not know when one meets one’s end. Fatality may occur at any time before receiving the benefits. There is no charm in getting the benefits late, and there is no strong reason for withholding them until the retiree reaches a certain age.

I humbly request the relevant authorities to revisit the existing policies for future civil servants. It is always better to collect individual feedback of civil servants and weigh pros and cons of the existing pension policies. I think there are many retiring civil servants going for lump sum benefits instead of staying in pension because it is the only opportunity to reinvent the future.

However, I regret resigning late since I could draw only a meagre NPPF benefit of Nu 204,245. If this is what one gets, remaining longer in the civil service is a big loss. If long years in the civil service can end with a small retirement benefit, it does not secure our future. It all ends without a secure future for oneself and one’s family.

If I am not eligible for monthly pension, there should be lump sum. And if there is no lump sum, there should be monthly pension. If neither is paid, what’s the point of waiting until 51?

In order to give retired civil servants an honourable retired life, the policies need to be revised.

Surely, Parliament could take this matter as a national issue for the benefit of civil servants, who work for the public for decades. Bhutan being a GNH society, the importance of giving an honourable retired life to its people should be given high priority.

If the rules and policies are not revised, our civil servants are not heading for a good retired life. My door is closed, but there are so many like me in the civil service.

By Wangay

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