Prioritize the private sector
Since the new government assumed office on November 7, its first priority has been to institute the fourth Pay Commission to give a pay hike to the civil servants.
Druk Nyamrup Tshogpa has always been clear when it came to a raise in salary for civil servants. In fact, it has been one of DNT’s pledges since the party was formed.
Now the question is not only about civil servants deserving a pay hike but what it would entail if every government that comes to power keeps on jacking up the salary of the very closed and exclusive group (at least by the treatment they receive) of 30,000 who seem to enjoy too many special privileges too often.
Sure, they might be the cream of the crop. But if we are talking about the national work force, the private sector is the one which absorbs the majority of job seekers. And it is a sector that is grossly neglected and meted a step-motherly treatment by the authorities.
The cliché that the private sector is the engine of economic growth rings empty now. In reality, the private sector is struggling to keep afloat with little or no incentives, poor working conditions, underpaid employees, non-conducive work environments that do nothing for employee growth and protection, and yes, bureaucratic hurdles to the little innovation and out-ofbox thinking it may do.
When the government says that it will take care of only the civil service which is already doing much better than the private sector in every aspect, what message is being conveyed?
We know that inflation affects everyone in Bhutan, irrespective of whether they work in the public or private sector. And everybody needs to maintain a certain standard of living to be happy, healthy and fulfilled.
And most ironically, this comes from a government who has promised to “narrow the gap” between the haves and the have-nots. Increasing civil servants’ pay hike might close the divide between higher and lower paid civil servants but how is it going to solve the private sector conundrum?
Does the private sector not deserve better? And shouldn’t the government be working towards the end of sharing a slice of the pie with private sector employees who are literally starving for want of opportunities and funds?
Admittedly, we are not short of talent in the private sector. But we are definitely short of resources that go into nurturing and celebrating the talent.
Considering that the private sector is the biggest employer of the Bhutanese workforce, it must be given priority as well. That is how ideas will breed and breakthroughs occur. Otherwise only mollycoddling the already well to do in the industry would lead to serious issues like poor work quality and a very disgruntled and poorly performing workforce.
This in turn would be a dampener to the country’s economic growth. And we know that only if workers are happy can we build a happier, self-reliant nation.
The draft 12th Plan being reviewed by the Gross National Happiness Commission had a provision of Nu 73bn for the pay and allowances of civil servants and the pay raise is expected to be covered by another Nu 20bn.
Isn’t it time we think of doing something for the private sector too? For starters, extra pay for extra hours, and perks and allowances would be welcome for a sector that most times have the most diligent employees (not having the 9 to 5 job mentality) but are the least rewarded.
That certainly would be narrowing the gap!