The government has cast aside doubt on pay revision for civil servants for the time being, after announcing that it had recommended the pay commission to look into the matter, but this has not stopped exchange on social networking sites and online forums.
Many are wondering whether the pay revision, as pledged by the ruling government before the election this year, would come in lump-sum or percentage wise. Few even feel that the revision is unlikely to happen this time, especially looking at the present predicament of the country’s economy.
But a question that deserves reckoning is whether the salary raise is timely or not? The revision would indubitably come as a good news for many, but there are a host of other concerns too.
How appropriate and reasonable is the pay hike when the government itself is on an austerity measure at the ministerial level? When the country itself is on a borrowing spree from India and the augmenting national debt? And especially when donor countries’ aid and support are getting limited.
Additionally, there is also disgruntlement that the pay hike would only be good for high level officials while civil servants in the lower rung and private sector employees would have to wait with bated breath to experience the looming ripple effects the raise is likely to bring along.
House rents in the country especially in urban towns like Thimphu and Phuentsholing are already exorbitant. House owners must be already mulling over increasing the rent. The prices of commodity, which is already experiencing inflation, will only go up. These are two tangible effects that could happen in the wake of the pay raise. Income disparity and the gap between the haves and have-nots are also likely to grow.
The government, therefore, will have to look into these aspects. It should also be ready about controlling inflation and regulating market prices. There is a need to improve living standards but that cannot happen by hiking up salaries of a group of people. The overall vision is to take into consideration the larger picture. How would the pay raise impact the lives of a roadside worker, a wage earner, a construction laborer or a driver etc.?
And as such, why cannot the government give a bottom-up pay raise – with those at the lowest level of bureaucracy getting the highest raise? We are talking about peons, drivers, office assistants and others.
The pay raise must eventually improve lives of Bhutanese civil servants by providing them that extra buck and purchasing power. But what use it is if the extra money through the pay hike goes in supplementing the hiked house rents and cost of commodities? And what is the use if the people who haven’t got the deserved raise have to bear the burden equally with those who have got one?