New Delhi: India’s payout to government employees just got bigger with a committee of bureaucrats set up to review the recommendations made earlier this year by the Sixth Pay Commission suggesting a Rs12,000 crore increase in a move that will likely buy the government some goodwill.
Pay commissions are set up to revise the salaries of Central government employees and the Sixth Pay Commission had asked for a payout of Rs30,621 crore this year (2008-09) including a raise of Rs12,561 crore—this will translate into an average salary hike of 40% for the 3.3 million employees of the Central government —and payment of arrears since January 2006. The new salaries came into effect from June.
The committee’s suggestion, shared with Mint by a government official familiar with the development who did not wish to be identified, translates into almost a 40% increase over the Rs30,621 crore. Of the additional Rs12,000 crore, half will go towards salary hikes and the rest towards arrears, and the biggest beneficiary of this proposed additional payment will be the Armed Forces that had expressed their disappointment with the initial recommendations of the pay commission which were submitted to the finance minister on 24 March.
The cabinet is expected to approve this raise in the next few weeks. The group that suggested the increase included representatives of the finance ministry and discussed the issue of salaries with employee organizations across government departments that had expressed their unhappiness with the initial recommendations. A government official, who asked not to be identified, said that the demands made by the Armed Forces, such as higher transportation allowances and improvement in the military service pay, have been addressed.
An officer in the railway ministry, who also did not wish to be identified, said his ministry had sought “relaxation of a norm which stipulated that matriculation would be a must for any government service”.
In India, matriculation refers to high-school education, and the railway ministry official said the department had told the group reviewing the pay commission’s recommendations that “there were many areas of work (artisans, carpenters and manual labourers)...where it would be difficult to find matriculates”. “We hope that the committee will take a favourable view,” added this officer. “The cabinet should take a decision on this (pay commission’s recommendation) very soon,” said another government official familiar with the developments who too did not wish to be identified.?
The pay commission’s recommendation and the subsequent review are expected to earn the government the goodwill of government employees ahead of crucial polls to several states this year and to the Lok Sabha in 2009. The government has just implemented a Rs71,680 crore farm loan waiver that benefits around 43 million small and marginal farmers across rural India.