Sunday, September 28, 2008

High-level ministerial committee to redress grievances. Defence staff agree to new pay for now

The Centre on Saturday set up a high-level ministerial committee to redress grievances of the armed forces personnel relating to revised pay scales. This follows the refusal by the three services chiefs to implement the “discriminatory” recommendations of the Sixth Pay Commission.

External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee will head the three-member panel. Defence Minister A.K. Antony and Finance Minister P. Chidambaram are the other members. The panel was constituted on the direction of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, who is currently abroad.

The direction comes in the wake of the earlier decision by the three armed forces not to implement the revised scales till all the anomalies were rectified.

With the government setting up the committee, the services have now decided to accept the revised pay scales as a temporary measure pending its recommendation and to submit their salary bills to the Defence Ministry on Monday. The armed forces personnel will get their new salary and arrears on October 1.

A draft notification in this regard will be submitted by the three forces to the Defence Ministry by Monday morning, a government spokesperson said.

The services chiefs’ main grouse was about the recommendation of scales at the Lieutenant Colonel levels in all the services. Wary of getting their grievances addressed by bureaucrats, they had sought intervention at the highest political level.

The distrust with civilian officers was evident even at the time of the formation of the Pay Commission. The services chiefs had sought representation in the panel dominated by IAS officers on the ground that the civilians would not be able to grasp the circumstances under which the armed forces personnel operated. Their demand was, however, rejected.

They felt neglected again when a review committee was set up to look into their complaints over the pay panel’s recommendation. The review panel, which also comprised IAS officers, failed to meet their expectations.

Following that, Defence Minister A.K. Antony, Chairman of the Chiefs of Staff Committee, Admiral Sureesh Mehta and the other two services chiefs separately approached the Prime Minister for a fresh look into their grievances.

Source : The Hindu.

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