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Divali bonanza for Punjab staff
Sarbjit Dhaliwal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, October 19
As a Divali gift, the Punjab Government today gave a package of Rs 755 crore to its employees. The package includes assured career progression on the completion of four, nine and 14 years of service, an increase in the medical allowance by Rs 100 per month, interim relief of 5 per cent on the basic pay, restoration of the old pension commutation formula, regularisation of the services of ad hoc employees and an increase in the salary of computer teachers by Rs 2,500 per month.

An announcement in this regard was made here by the Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh. He said he had fulfilled all promises made to the employees in the state.

However, employees do not seem to be jubilant over the announcement. “We are happy but at the same time disappointed as the announcement has fallen far short of our expectations. We had been expecting that the Chief Minister would fulfil in entirety what he had promised in the election manifesto. But he has not done so,” said Mr Sajjan Singh, chairman, Punjab and UT Employees Joint Action Committee.

Capt Amarinder Singh said the medical allowance for employees had been increased from Rs 250 to Rs 350 per month. The financial burden on the state exchequer would be to the tune of Rs 60 crore. And 5 per cent interim relief would cost Rs 300 crore. The restoration of the old pension commutation formula would cost Rs 150 crore. The implementation of the four, nine and 14 years’ assured career progression benefit would cost Rs 200 crore to the state. The enhancement in the salary of computer teachers from Rs 4,500 to Rs 7,000 would cost Rs 45 crore to the government. Asked about the enhancing of the retirement age to 60 from the existing 58 years for certain categories of employees, Capt Amarinder Singh said that no decision had been taken in this regard.

Employees have been demanding the promotion scale on the completion of four, nine and 14 years of service on the pattern 10 other categories of employees, including PCS officers, engineers and doctors. However, the government has announced assured career progression for them. Explaining it, a senior officer of the government said that in fact it was assured career progression in the hierarchical scale. That meant progression to the next step in the scale in which an employee was already placed at the time of becoming eligible for the benefit.

Career progression is different from the promotional scale that had being demanded by the employees. In fact, already there is assured career progression on the completion of eight, 16, 24 and 32 years of service for state government employees. Sources said that those who had completed service of 24 years but not 32 years would be at a loss on the implementation of the new career progression benefit announced today. “We will give such employees a choice to opt for the existing scheme”, said the senior officer. Moreover, the employees had sought this benefit from 1996 when the last pay commission’s report was implemented. The government had promised to enhance the medical allowance to Rs 500 per month.

Various sections of the state government officers are unhappy because the retirement age has not been increased to 60 from 58. In fact, 16 organisations of officers and other employees today submitted a memorandum to the Deputy Chairman of the Punjab Planning Board to take up the issue of enhancing the retirement age with the Chief Minister. The officers wanted that they should be treated on a par with Central Government employees as far as the retirement age was concerned.

Capt Amarinder Singh said the services of nearly 15,000 employees, who had been working on an ad hoc, work-charged basis for the past 10 years would be regularised. Cases of other such employees would also be considered for regularisation, he added.

He said 6,600 B.Ed teachers would be recruited purely on the basis of their academic merit by November 17. Already, 12,000 teachers had been recruited.

He said his government had given jobs to 66,000 persons in its departments since it came to power in 2002 whereas the previous SAD-BJP government had given jobs to only 30,000 persons during its term. He said 20 lakh jobs in the private and other sectors had been created because of the clearance of projects worth Rs 1,00,000 crore in the state.



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