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NA deliberates on regularizing contract employees

By Sonam Choki

There is good news for around 3,700 consolidated contract employees across the country who will now receive better service benefits and social security.

The Member from the Maenbi-Tsaenkhar constituency, Choki Gyeltshen, moved the motion to review and regularize consolidated contract employees to regular contract employees today.

Choki Gyeltshen said that even though the consolidated contract employees were employed to solve short-term human resource issues, most of them have been serving for more than five years.

He submitted that according to Section 27 (f) of the Civil Service Act of Bhutan 2010, the Royal Civil Service Commission (RCSC) is mandated to “promote and maintain the highest level of prestige, morale, and well-being of the civil service”.

“Yet, the consolidated contract employees under RCSC do not enjoy incentives, pension and provident funds, yearly increments, opportunities to avail loan from banks, and other benefits like the regular contract employees,” the MP said, adding that around 3,700 individuals will benefit from this scheme.  

“I recommend that they should get transfer grants because so far no contract employees are allowed to apply for transfer. In addition, I also recommend they should be entitled to extend their medical leave. It has been found that these factors were demotivating contract employees to work hard with dedication,” said Choki Gyeltshen.

He reiterated that those on consolidated contract employees do not have secure future livelihood leading to their poor performance and added that it is also not in line with the principle of the Gross National Happiness to promote happiness and well-being of the citizens. 

MP Choki Gyeltshen said even though the consolidated contract employees were employed to solve short term issues, most of them were serving for more than five years. But as per Civil Service Rules and Regulations 2018, the consolidated contract should be time-bound in the project and the programme.

He said that since all consolidated contract employees work as regular employees, there is a general consensus that they are grossly underpaid. “We hope RCSC looks into this issue during its reforms,” added the MP.

Having submitted that, the MP moved the motion to review and regularize the 4622 consolidated contract employee to regular contract employee.

The National Assembly, in general, agreed on the existence of disparity between regular and consolidated contract employees and deliberated in detail the advantages and disadvantages of regularizing the consolidated contract employee to regular contract employee.

The speaker said the government will now discuss this with the RCSC and see the possibilities.

According to the Civil Service Rules and Regulations, consolidated contract employees are paid a lump sum amount as salary, house rent, and repatriation benefits pegged to civil servant position levels but are not eligible for annual increment, contract allowance, Provident Fund (PF) and Pension.

In addition, regular contract employees are eligible for monthly pay, house rent, and repatriation benefits pegged to civil servant position levels and an additional 30 per cent contract allowance but not PF and pension benefits.

As of today, there are 3,700 consolidated contract employees.

Meanwhile, a total of nine oral questions were raised during the Question at the parliament this week.

Among others issues on reduction of parking fees at the Thimphu Thromde Parking areas and provision of personal loans to civil servants above Nu. 500,000 were also deliberated.

Other pertinent questions likethe government’s action to address the current unemployment situation and a status report of the office and human resources set up to review and reform the TVET programme were also asked to the Minister for Labour and Human Resources.

The Minister for Economic Affairs was questioned on the measures and priorities of the Ministry to overcome the challenges of worsening economic situation due to the Covid-19 pandemic, plans to increase the country’s exports, and on the plans and measures to provide loan support for the owners of the numerous entertainment houses affected by the Covid-19 pandemic. 

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