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No cheers to babus in pay revision?


NEW DELHI: There isn't much to cheer for millions of central government employees, including those in railways, paramilitary and defence services, as the empowered committee examining the 6th pay commission's proposals is unlikely to "rewrite" the original report in any big way. At best, it would make minor upward revisions since the government holds the pay report to be pro-employee and prepared with a view to maximize benefits for the bulk of the officialdom. "Every rupee hiked costs the exchequer a few crores. Even if the central government can afford to bear its own burden, the expected demand for similar hikes in the states can potentially derail the economy. More so, when many states are already overstressed after slashing sales tax on petrol products and LPG," highly placed government sources told TOI on Tuesday. What, however, is certain is that the committee, headed by cabinet secretary K M Chandrasekhar, has progressed well in its work and is expected to submit its much awaited report by July first week. The pay panel's recommendations, effective from January 2006, are likely to be accepted and implemented "very soon" after that. The committee has held over two dozen meetings with employee associations and ministries by now and it is fast veering round to the view that its larger objective is to rationalise parts of the report to benefit the maximum numbers. Ensuring uniformity of remuneration and scales across millions of government employees, sources said, was a gigantic task and it was felt that the pay commission had done a good job. "The committee will definitely not go into the nitty-gritty of the entire report but may recommend very minor changes here and there," sources added. Open as well as subdued protests marked the submission of the pay panel's report on March 24 and, for the first time, the message did not go down well even with the armed forces, forcing the defence minister and the service chiefs to approach the government for a better deal. Later, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh himself addressed the issue, promising that the genuine concerns of government servants would be looked into by the empowered committee. "I never imagined that as secretary, I would get to draw Rs 80,000 a month but the pay report has made that possible. Comparing government salaries with profit-driven corporate majors is very unfair. The recommendations have factored in a very wide range of issues that the government has to deal with," a senior IAS officer said. The pay commission recommended a minimum entry-level salary of Rs 6,660 and a maximum of Rs 80,000 for secretaries, amounting to a minimum-maximum ratio of 1:12. The cabinet secretary's pay was fixed at Rs 90,000. The total number of grades were reduced to 20 (from the earlier 35) spread across four distinct pay bands. It also proposed annual increment at the rate of 2.5% of the total pay with high-performers (not more than 20% of the total strength) getting a higher 3.5%. The recommendations would also have a bearing on lakhs of pensioners across the country as their remuneration would be revised accordingly. The commission also favoured a revision of the Consumer Price Index for computation of dearness allowance as frequently as feasible and it even suggested a separate price index for government employees by the National Statistical Commission.

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