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Mamata promises employees New Year hike

The Sixth Pay Commission has recommended a hike of 2.57 times in basic salary

By Our Special Correspondent in Calcutta

  • Published 14.09.19, 2:50 AM
  • Updated 14.09.19, 2:50 AM
A member of the employees’ association welcomes chief minister Mamata Banerjee at the meet in Calcutta on Friday as finance minister Amit Mitra looks on.
A member of the employees’ association welcomes chief minister Mamata Banerjee at the meet in Calcutta on Friday as finance minister Amit Mitra looks on. Picture by Pradip Sanyal

The Bengal government has accepted the “first part” of the recommendations of the Sixth Pay Commission and they are likely to be implemented from January 2020, chief minister Mamata Banerjee announced on Friday.

The commission has recommended a hike of 2.57 times in basic salary. The proposals will cover nearly 8 lakh employees of the state government and state-aided institutes like schools, panchayats and civic bodies.

“We have accepted the recommendations. Now, if an employee has a basic salary of Rs 7,000, the new basic salary would be Rs 17,990,” Mamata said at a meeting of the Trinamul-led state government employees’ union in Netaji Indoor Stadium here.

“We have received the first part of the recommendations of the Sixth Pay Commission…. We are accepting the them. We will try to make the recommendations effective from January 1 as we have to follow certain procedures before implementing them,” she added.

The government will have to spend an additional Rs 10,000 crore annually to shoulder the burden of the revised pay, the chief minister said, adding the employees’ gratuity would also be hiked to Rs 10 lakh from Rs 6 lakh at the time of retirement.

The first part of the pay panel’s recommendations deals with items like basic salary, HRA and medical allowance, a source said, adding the second part is about other components like dearness and travel allowance.

The recommendations — Mamata said she got the first part of the report on Friday morning — would be placed before the state cabinet on September 23. Once it is ratified, the new rules — defining the pay structures for different grades — will have to be prepared.

“Once the rule is prepared, the government has to issue a gazette notification before giving effect to the recommendations,” said an official.

As Mamata didn’t comment on the other components — house rent, medical, travel and dearness allowances — there was a lack of clarity on the new deal her government was offering. “You can trust our government…. If you work hard, the government will take care of your requirements,” said the chief minister without divulging details.

The announcements were greeted by a huge round of applause but a section of the staff said they had expected more.

“Rough calculations suggest that if the state follows the central government’s Seventh Pay Commission (proposals), it would have required a sum of Rs 17,000 crore annually. As the state would require only Rs 10,000 crore, there is a fear that we may not get all benefits,” said a finance department official.

A Nabanna official said the state’s Sixth Pay Commission had failed to meet expectations. “A 2.57 times increase in basic salary is equal to what the Centre’s Seventh Pay commission had recommended. But in other areas, like the gratuity, it did not match the Centre’s structure. Besides, what about arrears resulting out of non-payment of due DA for years?” asked the official.

According to him, the Centre had hiked the gratuity to Rs 20 lakh from Rs 10 lakh while the state decided to raise it to Rs 10 lakh from Rs 6 lakh.

The chief minister, some sources said, apparently realised the announcements might not please the employees and, therefore, explained some issues to make them feel they could be a happier lot compared to central staff.

“The central government has introduced contributory pension, which depends on the the share market (where parts of the funds are invested). But we give you an assured amount of pension. People could lose jobs in many central agencies like Air India and Ordnance Factory Board. But nobody lost jobs in Bengal government agencies. Everybody here gets salary on the first day of the month,” Mamata said. She added that the Bengal government gave more holidays than other states and the Centre.

Another senior Nabanna official said the chief minister had to act on demands for higher pay as support for the BJP had been rising among sections of state employees. “She tried her best with the limited resources…. It is expected that she would try to offer some more benefits through different allowances in next few months,” said the official. 

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