Govt okays pay hike for PSU executives

Govt okays pay hike for PSU executives

New Delhi: Some three months after the government announced a pay hike to five million Union government employees, the Union cabinet approved pay revisions to executives of central public sector enterprises, or CPSEs.

This revision is expected to cover 250,000 employees starting with board level staff.

“The revised pay scales, which will be effective from 1 January 2007, will be implemented separately by concerned ministries or departments. The expenditures on account of the pay revision will be totally borne by the respective CPSEs," said Prithviraj Chavan, minister of state in the Prime Minister’s Office.

Says S.K. Chaturvedi, chairman and managing director, Power Grid Corp. of India Ltd, India’s largest power transmission company, “It has come at the right moment as PSU (public sector unit) employees were getting restive on the issue. However, the details can be gauged only after going through the report, as approved by the government."

To resolve problems on specific issues, the cabinet has explored the possibility of setting up an “anomalies committee."

The cabinet also focused on improving infrastructure in both oil and gas, and road sectors. It approved the award of 44 oil blocks under the seventh round of New Exploration Licensing Policy, or Nelp VII, for oil fields across India.

The sharing of contracts for 44 blocks is likely to be signed within a month with a total investment of $1.5 billion (Rs7,575 crore) for phase I. The proposal was, however, for 45 blocks.

R.S. Pandey, petroleum secretary, said: “The block MB-DWN-2005/8 was not awarded as the profit petroleum quoted by the bidder was abysmally low." The block had received only one bid from a consortium led by Cairn India Ltd.

The cabinet also cleared National Highway Fee (determination and collection) Rules, 2008. This is expected to attract private participation in the sector and better implementation of public-private partnership and improve the viability of road projects.

Highways regulator National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) officials say these rules are expected to remove disparities between regulations governing publicly funded highways and private concessions.

“Now there will be a uniform set of rules. For example, earlier, in the case of BOT, toll revision was (done) annually at pre-determined dates, while for government-funded highways it was revised every five years. Now they will make it the same date," said an NHAI official who didn’t want to be named.

BOT refers to build-operate-transfer method of financing infrastructure projects where the private player finances and builds the highway and derives revenue for a specified period of time.

The official said the government had collected Rs1,416 crore in toll revenue from publicly financed highways in 2007-2008.

To boost the agricultural sector, the cabinet cleared upgrading education and skills related to agriculture sector with a total cost of Rs2,277 crore during the 11th Plan (2007-12). These include strengthening agricultural universities, modernization of farms connected with such universities as also human resource development in the area.

Utpal Bhaskar and Rahul Chandran contributed to the story.