Pri­or­i­tize the pri­vate sec­tor

Business Bhutan - - Editoria -

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!

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