Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Pay panel review: All eyes now on PM

NEW DELHI: Millions of central government employees, including those from defence and paramilitary forces, are eagerly waiting for Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's response to the changes suggested by a high-level committee that examined the proposals of the 6th Pay Commission. On Monday, the committee, headed by cabinet secretary K M Chandrasekhar and comprising secretaries of other key ministries, apprised the PM of the modifications made in the original recommendations, besides telling him about the financial burden that the implementation of the pay report would entail. Top government sources, however, maintained that the changes were "only minor" as the original report was in itself a complete exercise and the hikes suggested were "already satisfactory". They, however, indicated "some changes" in salaries and allowances of defence, paramilitary and police personnel. The review report is expected to be presented at the next meeting of the Union Cabinet and, if cleared, implemented thereafter. Sources said the entire exercise should not take "more than 10 days", provided the Cabinet does not call for clarifications. The implementation of the report's key financial proposals is likely to further aggravate the inflationary pressure that is already impacting the economy adversely. According to the original report, submitted on March 24, the proposals are to be implemented with effect from January 2006 and the employees are anxiously waiting to receive the arrears of 31 months (till July), which should be a good amount at all levels. The arrear payment burden itself would be over Rs 18,000 crore, but employee associations have argued that at the current salary levels, government servants are finding it hard to cope with rising prices.

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