Rap for Haryana, UPSC returns list for IAS selection
Naveen S Garewal The Union Public Service Commission has censured the Haryana government for its move to push the names of relatives of a politician and a bureaucrat for selection to the IAS by concealing a stay on “finalising the selection” by the Central Administrative Tribunal (CAT).
The Chief Secretary’s office has received a communication returning all applications for the selection of state-cadre officers for appointment to the IAS. Earlier, in July, the UPSC had returned three of the five nominations, including those of Cabinet Minister Ram Bilas’ daughter and wife of the CM’s Principal Secretary and a senior town planner, raising queries over lapses, incomplete ACR records, overwriting, use of correcting fluid, etc. But it gave the candidates another chance to make corrections and return the applications.
In the meantime, one Lajpat Rai challenged the state’s selection list in CAT, alleging nepotism and favouritism.
The Chief Secretary’s office, however, sent the list again after removing the discrepancies, but withheld the information that the matter had been stayed on August 3. The UPSC communication received by the Chief Secretary’s office lists how the state government did not mention the court/CAT case and asks for a fresh proposal to be submitted “only after the order of the tribunal is either vacated or any further order is passed in this regard”.
The panel of names sent included the names of Dr Asha Sharma, daughter of Education Minister Ram Bilas Sharma; Dr Sonia Trikha, wife of the CM’s Principal Secretary Rajesh Khullar, and Dr Rakesh Talwar, an SMO posted in Raj Bhawan. The other two names are that of Gurmeet Kaur, a senior town planner, and Parmeshwar Mehra, an officer in the Excise & Taxation Dept.
ECONOMIC TIMES, AUG 20, 2016
Delhi government notifies implementation of 7th Pay panel recommendations NEW DELHI: The Delhi government has notified implementation of the Seventh Pay Commission recommendations, which provides 2.5 times hike in basic salaries and pensions of its employees and pensioners with effect from January 1. The over one lakh employees of the city administration, will get the increased salaries from next month. The arrears will also be paid in one go next month, a Delhi government official said. The hike in pensions and salaries will cost the exchequer around Rs 2,000 crore annually. The notification was issued after Lt Governor Najeeb Jung gave his approval for the same, the official said. The move comes nearly oneandahalf months after the Centre approved the recommendations of the pay panel. "Arrears as accruing on account of revised pay consequent upon fixation of pay under CCS (RP) Rules with effect from January 1, 2016 shall be paid in cash in one installment along with the payment of salary for the month of August, 2016, after making necessary adjustment on account of GPF and NPS, as applicable, in view of the revised pay," Deputy Secretary Manoj Kumar said in a written communication to head of all departments. As per the the new scales of pay, the basic salary at entrylevel is going up from Rs 7,000 per month to Rs 18,000, while at the highest level i.e. secretary, it would go up from Rs 90,000 to Rs 2.5 lakh. For class one officers, the starting salary will be Rs 56,100.
BUSINESS STANDARD, AUG 17, 2016
Govt officials find memo on foreign travel hard to digest
Many argue there's a mismatch between Prime Minister Narendra Modi's focus on international exposure and his government's diktat to officials on limiting travel
Nivedita Mookerji Tour cos say overseas travel demand remains robust despite terror attacks, military coupIndia is of strategic importance to us: AAE Travel's Jonathon NealPrepaid forex cards the best way to carry money abroadOla teams up with Via to allow travel agents book cabs for customersTravel firms, airlines make merry on long weekend
A four-page circular issued in the first week of January 2016 by the expenditure department in the finance ministry to regulate foreign visits of government officials looked like another austerity drive memo. But, seven months later, several key ministries and departments are struggling to cross what they believe is a difficult hurdle. Many argue there’s a mismatch between Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s focus on international exposure and his government’s diktat to officials on limiting travel.
Officials spoke to Business Standard on the condition that names of their ministries and their own identities be kept confidential. While the circular was meant for all government officers across ministries, the interpretation has varied widely. Even as a prominent economic department has clamped down on foreign visits like never before, another ministry continues to send officers out of the country for meetings and conferences whenever there’s a need.
The January circular was a departure from what has been the practice so far. While earlier austerity measures meant controlling expenses on foreign visits, the office memo sent in the beginning of the year went beyond that. It specified that foreign visits will not exceed five working days. And, that anydelegationforforeign travel(irrespective of the level of officers) exceeding five working days or five members shall be placed before the screening committee, headed by the Cabinet secretary, for approval. Also, no officer can undertake more than four official visits abroad in a year, and for visits exceeding that, proposals must be vetted by the Prime Minister through the screening committee. Till last year, the screening committee cleared trips only for officials who were above the level of joint secretary; for joint secretary and below, a Union minister was the approval authority.
An aggrieved official pointed out that the problem is that certain ministries are going overboard and putting in restrictions the expenditure department memo did not impose. “Some secretaries are micro-managing to decide who should go and who should not, what is important and what is not, leaving the staff frustrated,” he said. Another official said work in many ministries and government departments is suffering as delegation strength is being curtailed for some critical meetings related to the country’s economy. In many cases, trips have been cancelled, adversely impacting business matters and exchange of information on important issues, he added.
But, former cabinet secretary K M Chandrasekhar who held the top job during the United Progressive Alliance regime, told Business Standard: “I am generally of the view that foreign travel should be restricted not only as a measure of austerity, but also because a great deal of work remains to be done in various ministries.” He recalled that when Prabhat Kumar was the Cabinet secretary and he was joint secretary in commerce ministry, he had once asked why he was looking at trips of all joint secretaries and above. Kumar had told Chandrasekhar: “I too thought the same way but later came to realise that without some control, some officers will be forever in the air.” According to Chandrasekhar, there are always mechanisms in the government to take care of exigencies.
Another top bureaucrat, who has worked with the previous regime as well, said: “Foreign visits of government officials have always been a vexed issue.”
The official spoke about another issue that has cropped up from the January memo - it places restriction on travel of officials from the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA). “In an outgoing Indian delegation, there need not be any MEA official. Instead, services of the Indian Mission situated in the destination country could be utilised,” it says. According to an official, this is at times slowing down the political clearance given to foreign visits of bureaucrats by MEA. “MEA officials have become unduly stringent in giving political clearance as they themselves are under severe restriction on foreign travel,” according to a source.
Department of Administrative Reforms & Public Grievances (DARPG), among the rare departments to have posted officials’ foreign visit data for the current year, shows there were three trips in 2016 till the end of March. The largest delegation size was nine this year for DARPG for a trip to Hague, Netherlands, to attend an e-governance programme. The expenditure for the trip was Rs 30.4 lakh, against Rs 9.78 lakh and Rs 4.12 lakh for the other two trips during this period. In 2015, the highest spend by this department was Rs 12.19 lakh for a trip to Singapore, where some 14 officials travelled last November.
The commerce ministry, which has not posted any data for this year, shows 23 foreign trips between October 2014 and March 2015, the months up for which information is available. The highest expenditure was Rs 3.56 lakh for a one-member trip to Paris in October 2014, five months after theModi governmenttook charge at the Centre. In those six months, expenditure towards foreign travel was Rs 40.9 lakh in the commerce ministry for trips to Beijing, Paris, Moscow, among others. Compare that with 2012, when foreign trips by 129 commerce ministry officials to various destinations were done at a cost of Rs 1.76 crore.
The official website of Department of Economic Affairs, which is yet to post the latest foreign visit data, shows a total of 67 trips in 2012 by its officials at a total cost of Rs 3.5 crore, of which the highest expenditure per trip was at more than Rs 10 lakh for a G-20 visit to Mexico.
A four-page circular was issued in January by the expenditure department in the finance ministry
Seven months later, several key ministries and departments argue there’s a mismatch between PM Narendra Modi’s focus on international exposure and his government’s diktat to officials on limiting travel
The circular specified that foreign visits will not exceed 5 working days
Any delegation for foreign travel (irrespective of the level of officers) exceeding 5 working days or 5 members shall be placed before the screening committee
No officer can undertake more than four official visits abroad in a year, and for visits exceeding that, proposals must be vetted by the PM through the screening committee