7th Pay CommissionThe 7th Pay Commission continues to be a source of an irritant for the central government employees as the issues on allowances are not yet settled.
The Centre had set up a ‘Committee on Allowances’ which met last Thursday under the chairmanship of Union Secretary, Finance (Expenditure) with representatives of the Central government unions.
At the very start of the meeting, representatives of the unions expressed their anguish for ‘non-formation of High Level Committee’. According to them it was agreed to in July by the Group of Ministers (Government of India) for settling the issue of Minimum Wage and Multiplying Factor. The unions want the ‘minimum wage’ for Central employees to be fixed at Rs. 26,000 as opposed to Rs. 18,000 recommended by the 7th Central Pay Commission (CPC).
“The Secretary, Finance (Expenditure) told that, the committee constituted under the chairmanship of Addl. Secretary (Exp.) with J.S. (Pers.), JS (Estt.) and JS(Imp.) as Members has been made only for this purpose. Let us believe that, after the meeting, report of the said committee would be sent to the Government of India for its acceptance’’, Mr. Mishra, secretary (Staff Side) of the National Council/Joint Consultative Machinary, noted.
At the meeting, the unions claim that they made a strong case for implementation of the allowances to be decided by the Committee from January 1, 2016.
Besides that, they claimed that they have asked for House Rent Allowance be fixed at range 10 to 30 per cent of the basic linked to the classification of the town of posting, children education allowance of Rs. 3,000 and hostel subsidy of Rs.10,000. All these allowances should be tax exempt.
Staff Side demanded inclusion of post-graduate and professional courses in children education allowance. The issue of special duty allowance was also raised for Northeastern region.
Their wishlist extended to ‘Fixed Medical Allowance’ of Rs. 2,000 with Dearness Allowance Indexation, review of overtime allowance, small family allowance and dress allowance.
“Various Departmental Allowances, which have been abolished, should be allowed to continue, like Breakdown Allowance in the Railways and Fixed Conveyance Allowance to Postal Department employees”, Mr. Mishra noted.
Separately, M. Ragaviah, National Federation of Indian Railwaymen-NFIR said, “While there has been no commitment from the Chairman and Official Side of the Committee, the Finance Secretary however stated that further meetings will be held and in the meantime the JCM (Staff Side) may list out common issues and send the same to the Joint Secretary (Imp) and equally Departmental specified issues be sent through the respective Administrative Ministries for examination”.
However, the future looks different and dim.
Fearing a jump in footfalls to deposit or withdraw cash following the demonetisation of Rs 500 and 1,000 bank notes, the Finance Ministry is likely to scale down the the higher allowances proposal
“The central government employees have to wait for a few weeks as the demonetisation drive is open till December 30” a finance department official said.
“As people continue to suffer after demonetisation from November 9 on account of cash crunch, the Finance Minister Arun Jaitley compels to keep in abeyance the higher allowances till things normalize, and it is likely to be implemented from January next,” Finance Ministry sources revealed.
“Therefor,unless the banks can begin to function with a modicum of efficiency, the government will not announce higher allowances to save demonetisation chaos,” they added.
The committee under the headship of Finance Secretary Ashok Lavasa, set to decide on allowances said recently, “We are ready to submit our report, when the Finance Minister Arun Jaitley calls up.”
However official sources indicate, The Finance Minister will wait for the situation to normalize to receive report on higher allowances or implement what was recommended by the 7th pay commission.
In the meantime, keep your fingers crossed, atleast till January 2017.