The Modi government had last July bought time by deciding to implement the Seventh Pay Commission recommendations in two phases, with basic pay being revised as per its recommendation forthwith, but recommendations on allowances being referred to group of secretaries.
A year later the government has decided to implement part II but how? By the clever stratagem of being generous to the armed forces while being close-fisted to the civilians.
Doubling the Siachen allowance just goes on to prove that. The officers posted in Siachen will now get a monthly allowance of Rs 42,500, which was earlier Rs 21,000. Earlier, the soldiers posted in Siachen used to get Rs 14,000 per month. Now, they will receive Rs 30,000 per month as allowance.
But then armed forces personnel rank on a par with another core constituency — farmers. Both of them have to be kept in good humour. Any largesse or favour to them can be resented only at the cost of being dubbed anti-national.
In the event, both the media and the commentariat is singing paeans of the central government initiative on pay commission part II despite knowing intuitively at least that the lion’s share of the hike and the resultant budget is reserved for the armed forces personnel.
The working civilians have had the mortification of seeing their HRA go down by 20 per cent across the board.
Pensioners would get fixed monthly medical allowance of Rs 1,000 from the hitherto Rs 500, another clever ploy to show that the government cares for veterans.
The working civilians have had the mortification of seeing their HRA go down by 20 per cent across the board — from 30 per cent of salary to 24 per cent for employees located in cities having a population of more than 50 lakh — with a built-in thaw.
The thaw is should the DA reach 25 per cent of the basic salary, HRA would claw-back to 27 per cent in the above example and restored fully to 30 per cent should DA constitute 50 per cent of basic salary. Coming as it does against the backdrop of the Pay Commission recommendation to restore HRA to phased fullness only at the levels of 50 per cent and 100 per cent, the government’s gesture comes out as large-hearted. But what the government has once again done is to buy time — we will cross the bridge when we come to it.
There is a definitive straw in the wind — the government is not willing to view government employees, constituting as they do a minuscule portion of the populace, as holy cows. The 7th Pay Commission recommended abolition of 53 allowances, but the government has retained 12 of them, but this is no genuflection. It is just stooping to conquer. The modifications approved by the government in the recommendations of the Seventh Pay Commission on allowances will lead to a modest increase of Rs 448.23 crore per annum over the projections made.
The seventh pay panel, in its report, had projected the additional financial implication on allowances at Rs 29,300 crore per annum. The combined additional financial implication on account of the pay panel recommendations along with the modifications approved by the Cabinet is estimated at Rs 30748.23 crore per annum. So, the government has given less while appearing to have given more.
The Seventh Pay Commission has resulted in a modest hike of 14 per cent in government employees’ salaries as opposed to the generous 51 per cent hike last time round, that is, a decade ago when the Sixth Pay Commission recommendations were implemented.
This trend is likely to continue if the Modi government remains in power. It might walk the talk and give lateral entry to specialists from private sector and abroad on handsome salary, but for a short duration, may be five years. It might even be selectively generous to those who show results, thus fluttering the dovecotes of time-servers.
Also read: 7th Pay Commission: Central govt employees rejoice as PM Modi, Arun Jaitley approve revision to HRA and other allowances