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Pre-poll Bonanza
Retirement age now 60
27 pc salary hike for Punjab staff
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 20
This is one bonanza which seems to have been timed to perfection for the ruling SAD BJP government in the state. The fifth Punjab pay commission has recommended a 27 per cent hike in salaries of government employees and increased the age of retirement from the current 58 years to 60 years.

Though the report has been made public only after a go ahead from the Election Commission of India, it is expected to have some impact on general election in the state, now a mere fortnight away.

While the average increase in salary recommended by Punjab’s pay panel is more than what had been recommended by the 6th central pay commission (21 per cent), in certain brackets employees of the Punjab government will, however, find themselves in lower pay scales than their central government counterparts.

Already known across the country for giving one of the highest allowances to state government employees the state commission has recommended doubling of all existing fixed allowances.

A uniform annual increment has been fixed at three per cent of pay. While this has been reduced from 4 per cent for the lower grade employees it has been increased for the senior employees.

The commission has recommended payment of a severence package to employees who wish to retire after 15 years of service. Pension will now be paid at 50 per cent of the average emoluments/last pay drawn after 20 years of service without linking it to 33 years of qualifying service for grant of full pension.

Implementation of the revised pay scales will be deemed effective from January 1, 2006 and the revised allowances will be implemented from the date of notification by the government. The arrears, however, will be given away in instalments over a period of two-three years.

Deputy Chief Minister Sukhbir Badal today announced that the report will be implemented in toto. The finance minister Manpreet Badal has already stated that a committee will be constituted to prepare the ground and mobilise resources for implementation of the recommendations. The initial reaction of employee unions, however, has been dismissive. Rejecting the recommendations, union leaders pointed out on Monday that in several scales, central government recommendations are much better.

“Our demands submitted to the commission have not been met,” complained RS Verma an employee leader. Implementation of the recommendation will lead to an additional expenditure of Rs 2050 crore per year for serving employees and Rs 650 crore for pensioners. Payment of arrears are estimated to cost Rs 3450 crore for serving employees and Rs 1350 crore for pensioners for payment of arrears.

“We already have about Rs 1000 crore from the increase in revenue but the rest we will need to arrange. We might have to cut down on our annual plan to meet this expenditure,” said Manpreet Badal.

The chairman of the Commission SK Tuteja today submitted the report to the State Chief Secretary Ramesh Inder Singh.

Fifth Pay Commission highlights

  • Salary of school teachers, headmasters, principals, nurses and constabulary raised.
  • Dearness allowance hiked to 22 per cent.
  • House rent allowance to range between 10 per cent to 30 per cent according to location.
  • Employees allowed 10 days of leave for LTC
  • Education allowance of Rs 500 per child per month for two children
  • Fixed medical allowance raised to Rs 500 per month.
  • Mobile allowance varying from Rs 100 to Rs 500 recommended for all employees.
  • Non-Practicing allowance of 25 per cent of basic pay for ayurvedic, homoeopathic and veterinary doctors also.
  • Officers on deputation as faculty mem bers to training institutions to get 30 per cent deputation allowance
  • Risk insurance to replace risk allowance
  • One increment recommended for Group ‘C’ and ‘D’ employees for limiting fam ily size to two children; additional increment if employee has only two daughters.
  • Ex-gratia to be increased from Rs1 lakh to Rs 3 lakhs in case of death in harness and from Rs 3 lakh to Rs 10 lakh for death while on duty.
  • Payment of interest subsidy of 2 per cent by the government on bank loans
  • Increase in entitlements on road travel, train and air travel.
  • Interest-free marriage loan for daughters increased to Rs 50,000

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State to outsource recruitment
Chitleen K Sethi
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 20
In a controversial recommendation, which has already been accepted ‘in principle’ by the cabinet, the Punjab Fifth Pay Commission has suggested that government recruitment, especially for categories C and D employees, be outsourced. That is not all. For categories A and B, the Commission has recommended re-employment of retiring employees up to the age of 62 years.

Without mentioning ‘contractual employment’, the Commission’s report suggests that selected people be employed on fixed, consolidated remuneration for a limited period of up to three years. Such people could later be considered for regular jobs, states the report submitted to the government. The report states that to facilitate the process of outsourcing, a model contract be developed for use by various departments.

Yet another controversial suggestion made by the report concerns the “maximum possible use of the public private partnership ( PPP) model for delivering public services in sectors such as transport, education, health and housing. This is likely to be interpreted as a call for privatising healthcare and education.

“However, before switching over to PPP model, officials of concerned Departments should be given rigorous training about the formulation of contracts and monitoring their progress so that the private sector works towards citizens’ satisfaction and does not siphon off the resources of the State. This may also require setting up of independent Regulatory Authorities to ensure level playing field for investors and protecting the interests of the General Public,” warns the Commission.

In another set of recommendations the commission has suggested that 20 per cent quota of the direct recruitment should be filled through Limited Departmental Competitive Examination from amongst the employees, who fulfill the minimum qualification for direct recruitment.

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