Ruchika M. Khanna With the “ballooning” salary and pension bill admittedly its biggest problem, cash-strapped Punjab has not made any move towards setting up of a new pay commission, the announcement for which was made by Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal for 3.50 lakh employees more than a month back.
Punjab’s poor fiscal health has forced the state government to wait and watch before setting up the state’s Sixth Pay Commission. With the Government of India yet to accept the proposals of almost 20 per cent wage hike for its employees, as recommended by the Central Pay Commission, Punjab has decided to wait for the outcome.
The state is witnessing a period of slow revenue growth, “because of a negative economic sentiment”, even as its expenditure continues to grow by over 15 per cent annually. Almost 65 per cent of its total revenue receipts are used up in salaries and wages of employees and pensions and retirement benefits.
Finance Minister Parminder Singh Dhindsa admits that the state’s salary bill is too high, and any new hike would hit the state’s finances badly. “Each year, the salary bill increases by over Rs 3,000 crore as dearness allowance rises each year. Often, other states like Himachal Pradesh, that follow Punjab’s pattern of wage revision, complain that the salaries in the state are too high,” he says.
Of the Rs 46,229.24 crore that Punjab is expected to earn during this fiscal (though considering the current situation, the total revenue receipts will be less), Rs 25,536.35 crore is the state’s salary and pension bill alone.
Official sources say that the terms of reference of the Sixth Pay Commission will be made in a way that the percentage hike is minimal and wages will be brought at par with that of government employees in other states.
Officially, the line taken by Dhindsa is that they are yet to decide on the terms of reference of the wage commission. “The Cabinet has to collectively take the decision on who should be heading the Pay commission. But personally, I feel that the salary and wage bills alone take up the major chunk of our earnings, leaving very little room to carry on development activities,” he says.
Sources say that as and when the central pay commission recommendations are accepted by the Centre, the state will set up its own pay commission. “But the recommendations will take almost 14-18 months to come by, and the process to implement it would take a total of two years. So, the state government gets that breather for two years.”
HINDU, JAN 14, 2016
7th pay commission hike may be delayed
The Union Cabinet on Wednesday approved setting up of a panel of secretaries to process the recommendations of the 7th Pay Commission, implying that implementation of new pay grades will be delayed further.
The government had promised to implement it from January 2016. The commission had recommended a 23.55 per cent hike in government salaries last year which will pose a financial burden of Rs 1.02 lakh crore or 0.65 per cent of the GDP
Briefing reporters after the cabinet meeting, Parliamentary Affairs Minister M Venkaiah Naidu said the panel will be headed by cabinet secretary.
“The Empowered Committee of Secretaries will function as a Screening Committee to process the recommendations with regard to all relevant factors of the 7th CPC in an expeditious detailed and holistic fashion,” he said.
The commission’s awards are expected to put a burden of Rs 74,000 crore on the general budget and Rs 28,000 crore on the railways budget.
ECONOMIC TIMES, JAN 13, 2016
Haryana wants count of bureaucrats' horses
CHANDIGARH: In the age of odd-even schemes to beat car congestion, the Haryana government has asked its employees to list the number of horses they keep for transportation.
All gazetted officers have also been asked to list their electronic goods.No, the government doesn't want to know about the number of iPads the officers may have, it is more interested in knowing the number of radiograms they own.
In case you didn't know what a radiogram is, it is the grandpa of today's radios and combined a record player and a radio. Once considered a prized possession, it went extinct a good four decades ago.
This information has been sought by the general administration department (GAD) in a declaration form sent to all gazetted officers on December 8.
All heads of depart ments were asked to furnish details of properties, cash, jewellery, securities and other valuables by December.
Retired bureaucrat R S Chaudhary said the unique demand has come from the government perhaps because someone in the GAD did not bother to study a colonial era form before re-issuing it.
"As a sub-divisional magistrate in 1975, I was entitled to a housemare allowance but did not use a horse even then," he says. "Obviously, it is a futile exercise."
The babus are smirking. May be the government is hinting that they ride horses to beat global warming, one of them said.
An officer of the agriculture department said the oldest mode of transportation in his family was a Lambretta scooter used by his father. "The last time I rode a horse was at my wedding and that too was a very brief ride," he added.