The fifth Pemagatshel Dzongkhag Tshogdu (DT) held on August 28 endorsed, among others, proposal submitted by the dzongkhag human resource office on the need to rectify some inconsistencies in the provisions of the civil service rules. The house discussed at length four issues that are found to be inconsistent and decided to seek amendments under the new government.
The first issue was retirement age of civil servants. The Bhutan Civil Service Rules (BCSR) 2012, under article 20, prescribes different retirement age for civil servants in different levels. The BCSR has fixed the retirement age for those in grade three and above to 60 years. For those in grades four and eight, the retirement age is fixed at 58 years and those in grades nine and below at 56 years.
“Because of good health and well-being enjoyed over the years, it is obvious that the government is consistently losing a pool of civil servants who are not only able at that age but have reached the peak of wisdom from years of service, and most civil servants feel that the present retirement age needs amendments,” said the Dzongkhag Human Resources Officer.
The house agreed to propose the retirement age of civil servants to 65 years, which would be in consonance with the retirement age set for parliamentarians. The house also felt that even the present age limit for the parliamentarians is restrictive compared to elsewhere in the world.
The DT also decided to propose an amendment to Leave Travel Concession (LTC) payments. Currently, all the civil servants are entitled to an annual LTC of Nu 15,000 across all the grades and cadres of civil servants. The house endorsed the proposal for submission on the need to peg LTC with the basic salary or do away with the fixed slab.
Another issue discussed was earned leave accumulation. The civil servants today are entitled to an annual earned leave of 30 days and they are allowed to accumulate a total of 90 days of earned leave, which can be encashed.
What the house agreed was that, since the earned leave is “earned” by civil servants, there should not be restrictions on how many days of this leave can be amassed over the years. Civil servants, the members said, should be allowed to encash the entire accumulated leave at the time of retirement if they so choose. Some members said accumulation of earned leave on the other hand indicates dedication of service to the country and must be encouraged with awards instead of imposing restrictions.
The house also proposed that there was a need to revise the gratuity ceiling for civil servants from the present Nu 900,000 limit. The house acknowledged that most civil servants in the lower rung would not even reach that threshold but it is inconsistent and affects those in the executive level with many decades of service to the country.
“These amendments are necessary to encourage civil servants from performing even better in the face of change in the system of governance. It is not a motivation just for the present lot of civil servants but for all those who will be joining the ranks and files,” said a senior civil servant in the dzongkhag.