l Tashi Wangmo, Thimphu
Civil servants who have been affected by the Royal Civil Service Commission’s (RCSC) reform on the supervisory and support (S&S) category of civil servants have welcomed the National Council’s move and called it a “silver lining.”
The NC has written to the Chairperson of the Royal Civil Service Commission (RCSC), Dasho Karma Tshiteem. Signed by NC Chairperson Dasho Dr (PhD) Sonam Kinga, the NC has asked the commission to reconsider its reform initiatives. Copies of the letter have been sent to the Prime Minister, Dasho Tshering Tobgay, and Speaker Jigme Zangpo.
One of the affected civil servants said the very fact that the NC has written to the RCSC is testament that the RCSC has made a mistake. “The NC is the House of Review. The NC’s good governance committee (GGC) has said that they have reviewed the RCSC’s reform initiatives and found flaws in the remapping exercise and the fixation of the promotion period for the S&S category civil servants. Why would the NC write to the RCSC if there is no basis,” he questioned.
When asked if he sees any chances of the RCSC changing its decisions, he said that though it is an autonomous body, RCSC cannot supersede the findings of the Upper House. It has been clearly mentioned that though RCSC can carry out reform programmes in the civil service, “such initiatives should be within the scope of the Constitution and the Civil Service Act,” he said.
He added that the NC has taken its responsibility to remind the Constitutional Offices of their mandate, if they attempt to violate any laws. Quoting the NC’s Good Governance Committees’ Chairman, MP from Trongsa Tharchen that “The good intent of the organisation cannot supersede the legal intent of the law passed by Parliament,” he said that if RCSC does not take any action, it means that the institution is violating the Constitution.
Another affected civil servant said the reform, good or bad, has affected more than 2000 people. “If the numbers are low, it may be fine. But negative effect on 2000 plus civil servants is something that the RCSC ought to think about.” He added that when he approached the RCSC, he was told that it was not a demotion. “But when one is remapped from professional and management (P&M) category to the S&S category, remapped from “P5-P3” to equivalent levels of “SS4 –SS2”, is it not demotion,” he asked, saying that when ones’ perks, privileges and entitlements are reduced, it is clearly a case of demotion.
Another civil servant mentioned that to clarify and make her stand, she went to the RCSC’s office. One officer said that my case is “straightforward.” She said that without even listening to her grievances and stand the officer had decided that her case has no merit and is straightforward.
Quoting the NC’s stand on pursuing qualification up-gradation, which is “to move up the career ladder in the civil service by transitioning from S&S category to P&M category,” she said that she was “shocked” when RCSC officials said that “Masters or PhD” has no value and is useful only for promoting one’s curriculum vitae (CV). In line with the NC’s stand that “the recent remapping exercise has not given due consideration to the qualification up-gradation of the affected civil servants”, she said that one RCSC officer told her that whether “one does masters or PhD, it is not relevant, apart from strengthening my CV,” she said. “My Masters degree has been recognized by RCSC. I have served as head of organizations. But still RCSC maintains that my appeals are baseless,” she said, underlining that it is not the thirst for power but justice that she and other colleagues are requesting the RCSC for.
Another affected civil servant, an engineer by profession, said he is “confused,” by main clauses and notes of the BCSR 2012. There is a “Note” in page 147 which reads: “For a civil servant who upgraded his qualification to a Bachelors/Masters Degree, as an in-service candidate, the year of graduation is being referred, to determine whether he is to be considered as a “RCSC – Select Graduate.” “What does this mean,” he said. Additionally, he underlined that his case was not considered because he was not in P5 level, when the reform started. “I was in P5. But due to negligence of the human resource (HR) officers, it was not mentioned. Does it mean that I have to be punished for a lapse made by others,” he said.
Meanwhile, in the RCSC’s annual report it is mentioned that a small group of S&S category civil servants appealed for placement together with the Bhutan Civil Service Examination (BCSE) selected P&M category civil servants. “Since their grievances were not found reasonable, they were not entertained,” it reads. This, another affected civil servant is an “unpalatable” statement. “Is 2000 plus civil servants a small group? If our grievances are not genuine, why would the NC take it up,” he questioned. He also added that neither he nor his friends have approached political authorities. “Probably, one or two may have done this, but never as a group, like the graduates from SMU did,” he said, highlighting that the RCSC’s report is untrue. RCSC in its annual report stated : “Unfortunately, whether intended or not, the action of this small group of civil servants has set an undesirable precedent of civil servants approaching political authorities for civil service matters when they feel they might receive support,”
Article 11, Section 2 of the Constitution states that: “Besides its legislative functions, the National Council shall act as the House of review on matters affecting the security and sovereignty of the country and the interests of the nation and the people that need to be brought to the notice of the Druk Gyalpo, the Prime Minister and the National Assembly.”
Along with the letter, the NC has also recommended some actions. RCSC officials could not be contacted for their views.