M A I N   N E W S

Enhanced HRA, CCA for Central staff in 238 cities
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, October 14
Government employees working in 238 cities would now be entitled to a higher house rent allowance ( HRA) and city compensatory allowance (CCA) as these cities and towns have now been upgraded to category `A’.

“The number of cities and towns has been raised for HRA and CCA effective from April 1, 2004” Finance Minister P Chidambaram told mediapersons today. The decision was taken during the Cabinet meeting held yesterday.

The decision to upgrade these cities and towns, primarily from the states of Uttar Pradesh, Gujarat, Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka and Rajasthan, and also to raise the HRA and CCA for Central Government employees is estimated to cost the government Rs 144 crore.

The government also announced a major relief package aimed at clearing salaries and statutory dues of as many as 45,000 employees of 24 loss making public sector undertakings (PSUs) under the Ministry of Heavy Industries.

The package, which involves a sum of Rs 517 crore, also extended the purchase preference policy to March 31, 2005 and also enhanced the exgratia payment to employees of Central PSUs under the Voluntary Retirement Scheme (VRS).

“The payment of salaries of employees of 24 PSUs till July 31, 2004 will start from today and the process will be concluded before Durga Puja. The payment of statutory dues such as provident fund of employees of 21 PSUs will be taken up in the first phase”, Minister of Heavy Industries and Public Enterprises Santosh Mohan Deb told mediapersons here today.

Provident fund dues of three PSUs — Heavy Engineering Corporation, HMT Bangalore and Hindustan Cables—would be “setlled in December, even though their other statutory dues will be cleared in the first phase.

The 24 loss making PSUs, whose employees will receive their statutory dues, are: Bharat Heavy Plates and Vessels Ltd., Bharat Pumps and Compressors Ltd., Richardson and Cruddas Ltd., Triveni Structural Ltd., Tungabhandra Steel Products Ltd., Cement Corporation of India Ltd., Bharat Opthalmic Glass., Andrew Yule and Company Ltd., Hindustan Cables Ltd., Instrumentation Ltd., Burn Standard Co. Ltd., Braithwaite and Co. Ltd., Bharat Wagon Engineering Co. Ltd., HMT ( Holding) Co., HMT ( MT) Ltd., HMT ( B) Ltd., HMT ( Watches), HMT ( Chinar Watches), Praga Tools Ltd., NEPA Ltd., Tyre Corporation of India Ltd., Heavy Engineering Corporation Ltd., Hindustan Photo Films Ltd., and National Instruments Ltd.

The Cabinet also decided to increased payment of exgratia under VRS to employees in Central PSEs following the Central Dearness Allowance (CDA) pattern of pay scales at the level of January 1, 1986.

“Through the present decision, the government has decided to do away with disparity in exgratia payment to employees in CPSUs under different patterns of unrevised pay scales when they opt to avail themselves of VRS. The enhancement is to the tune of 50 per cent of the admissible exgratia computed on their existing pay scales in accordance with the present scheme of VRS”, Mr Deb said.

The policy of purchase preference for products and services, which the government has decided to extend to March 31, 2005, provides that where the price quoted by a Central PSU is within 10 per cent of the lowest valid bid price in a tender, other things being equal, purchase preference is to be given to the PSU.

Mr Deb said the current appraisal was a prelude to and in aid of the deliberations before the proposed Board for Restructuring of Public Sector Enterprises (BRPSE) being set up under the Ministry of Heavy Industries and Public Enterprises shortly, whose recommendations would then be considered by the government for a final decision regarding the PSU.

He said preliminary assessment indicates the need for fresh investment to fund the commercially oriented roles of PSUS, while also meeting their social objectives.

“However, such investments would have to be conditioned with commensurate accountability imposed on the management and full involvement of workers as important as stakeholders”, he said.

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