Wednesday, August 13, 2008

New pay package for armed forces likely on August 15

Huma SiddiquiPosted online: Wednesday, August 13, 2008 at 23:19 hrsUpdated On:
Bringing in some good cheer for 12 lakh personnel of the armed forces, the Centre is expected to announce the final package following the Sixth Pay Commission recommendations on August 15.
The announcement is expected as a final decision on the contentious issue of increasing the perks and salaries of the armed forces has now been taken. According to sources, a couple of meetings in a run up to the final decision have been taking place in the ministry of defence.
Talking to FE on condition of anonymity, ministry sources said, “a lot of meetings have been taking place and all the issues that had been put before the government have been sorted out.”
Announcement of the new policy for the armed forces is imminent, sources added. The hectic meetings have been attended by the defence minister AK Antony, the finance minister P Chidambaram and the Cabinet secretary K Chandrashekhar.
It is expected that the government will announce an attractive package that will enhance the pay and perks of the men in uniform by almost 20%. Also, the new package is expected to create around 4,000 more posts of colonels, brigadiers and generals in the Army and their equivalents in the Navy and Air Force to address the issue of resentment due to stagnation in the forces.
Ever since the Pay Commission submitted its report on May 24, with what was initially seen as a 40% hike in salaries being whittled down to 20% after taxes, armed forces have been protesting against this. They even submitted a joint memorandum on this to the defence minister, who promised them a fair deal. In their memorandum, the chiefs had demanded a parity with civilian employees, and expressed their displeasure over the military service pay that had been recommended in a bid to reduce this disparity, the sources said.
The service chiefs believe that after taking into account taxes and other deductions, the wage hike in real terms would amount to only 20%. Besides, the service chiefs contend that personnel below officer rank (PBOR) have received a raw deal in the Commission’s recommendations, the sources said.
Sources said while the Pay Commission’s recommendations were discussed in the meeting, also some fresh recommendations have been adopted for the armed forces. The package as suggested by the empowered group of secretaries headed by the Cabinet secretary KM Chandrasekhar has also been finalised during the meetings.