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Govt clears 10% DA hike for Central staff, Prez rule in AP
Poll expense limit raised to Rs 70 lakh
No decision on anti-graft ordinances
Girja Shankar Kaura
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, February 28
The Union Cabinet today raised dearness allowance (DA) for Central Government staff to 100% from existing 90%, benefiting 50 lakh employees and 30 lakh pensioners.

The decision comes ahead of the imposition of the model code of conduct by the Election Commission. This is the second double digit DA hike in a row.

The Cabinet meeting, chaired by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, further decided to impose President's rule in Andhra Pradesh and keep the Assembly in suspended animation. Parliament recently approved the bifurcation of the state.

Andhra Governor ESL Narasimhan, who will hold charge during the period of President's rule, had suggested Central rule following the resignation of Chief Minister N Kiran Kumar Reddy to protest the stateís bifurcation. Andhra Pradesh, which is coming under Presidentís rule after a long gap of 41 years, will be the second state after Delhi to go under Central rule once President Pranab Mukherjee gives his ascent to the Cabinet decision.

The term of the 294-member Andhra Assembly expires on June 2 before which elections are to be held. The Election Commission is set to declare Assembly polls along with Lok Sabha elections in the coming days. A host of other proposals were also cleared. However, the decision on anti-corruption ordinances, a subject close to Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhiís heart, was deferred.

The government had announced a hike of 10 per cent taking it up to 90 per cent in September last year, effective from July 1, 2013.

"The Union Cabinet approved the proposal to release an additional instalment of DA and dearness relief (DR) to pensioners with effect from January 1, 2014, in cash, but not before the disbursement of the salary for the month of March 2014 at the rate of 10 per cent increase over the existing rate of 90 per cent," said an official statement.

The government also approved the terms of reference of the 7th Pay Commission, a move which would pave the way for merger of 50 per cent DA with basic pay. The Commission can now suggest the merger in its interim report. The 50 per cent DA merger with basic pay will roughly increase the gross salaries of central government employees by around 30 per cent. It cleared a proposal to ensure Rs 1,000 minimum monthly pension under a scheme of retirement fund body EPFO that would benefit 28 lakh pensioners from April 1. Earlier this month, the EPFO trustees had approved the proposal, which would cost the government an additional Rs 1,217 crore.

The Cabinet also approved amendment to the Conduct of Election Rules, 1961, and revised the limit of election expenditure incurred by a candidate for parliamentary constituencies to Rs 70 lakh in all states, except Arunachal Pradesh, Goa, Sikkim, Andaman and Nicobar Islands, Chandigarh, Dadra and Nagar Haveli, Daman and Diu, Lakshdweep and Puducherry, where the limit has been fixed at Rs 54 lakh.

This is due to the increase in the number of electors, polling stations as well as the increase in the cost inflation index. Also the majority of political parties had sought an increase in election expenses.

In case of Assembly constituencies, the maximum limit has been increased to Rs 28 lakh in all states except Arunachal Pradesh, Goa, Manipur, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Nagaland, Sikkim, Tripura and Puducherry where it will be Rs 20 lakh.

It gave its nod to financial support of Rs 434 crore for establishing four new National Institutes of Design (NID) at Jorhat (Assam), Bhopal (Madhya Pradesh), Vijayawada (Andhra Pradesh) and Kurukshetra (Haryana). The proposed institutes will offer both undergraduate and postgraduate education in design disciplines to meet regional needs.

The Cabinet gave approval to proposals for Seemandhra region, including setting up of three Kendriya Vidyalaya schools in Kadappa, Guntur and East Godavari districts at a cost of Rs 15 crore each.

It also approved amendments to the Nalanda University (Amendment) Bill, 2013, suggested by Parliament's Standing Committee on External Affairs. The Bill deals with the twin issues of autonomy and governance. It seeks to further refine some of the provisions of the Nalanda University Act, 2010 (39 of 2010).

Raining sops: Something for everyone
Terms of reference of 7th Pay Commission cleared

Would pave way for merger of 50% DA with basic pay; 30% gross salaries of Central Govt employees to go up
Rs 1,000 minimum monthly pension under EPS-95; Will benefit 28 lakh pensioners
Consumers can buy more than 1 subsidised cylinder a month
Rs 434 crore for new National Institutes of Design at Kurukshetra, Jorhat, Bhopal and Vijayawada
Rs 2,962.78 crore revised cost estimate for GSLV to complete programme, carry out experimental flight
Rs 150 crore to upgrade Maharani Laxmi Bai Medical College (Jhansi) and three more medical colleges in UP
150 workdays for tribals under MNREGA from 100; 14 lakh families to gain

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