Sunday, November 2, 2008

"Pay Row" - Now, MoD lets down armed forces

Even as a high-level committee comprising three Cabinet ministers is examining the four “core issues” that the armed forces have raised after the Sixth Pay Commission report was released, a fresh controversy has erupted. The ministry of defence (MoD) and the forces are at loggerheads again over salary related issues that have cropped up in the past one week.

It all started on October 20 when the MoD’s special instructions to implement the pay commission reached the forces.

To their dismay, the forces have now found some anomalies in the special instructions that were not there in the Sixth Pay Commission report approved by the Cabinet and notified by the government. Angered at being “short-changed”, the chief of personnel officers committee (COPOC) of the three forces has shot a letter to the MoD asking it to remove seven aberrations that include the dilution of the provisions of the pay commission as approved by the Cabinet and in some cases restore the deleted portions. These are separate from the four core issues being examined by the ministerial committee headed by Pranab Mukherjee.

The adjutant general at present heads the COPOC that also comprises the personnel officers of the Air force and the Navy. Out of the many serious anomalies, the key ones are: the dilution of the definition of the military service pay; the subversion of the definition of rank pay and the fixing of the initial pay scale for Colonels and Brigadiers at a level that is lower than what is due.

The foremost issue is of the rank pay that will result in a lesser hike in wages of all officers. The adjutant general has pointed out that the Fourth Pay Commission onward the rank pay is counted part of the basic pay. This is the government policy to club the two increases, thus affecting the quantum of house rent allowance, travelling allowance and DA. Under new orders, the MoD has delinked the rank pay from the basic pay. Hence, effectively reducing the HRA, travelling allowances and DA for each officer.

In case of the military service pay (MSP), the Sixth Pay Commission explains it as “?compensation for difficulties specific to military life”. The MoD in its latest orders to implement the pay commission report refers it to as a type of hardship allowance to “security forces” in forward areas. The personnel officers have questioned as to why the definition of the MSP has not been adopted from the pay commission itself.

Furthermore, on the MSP, the pay commission says that “in case of employees drawing the same grade pay, the priority (for status) should be on the total emoluments, including non-practising allowance for doctors and the MSP for forces”.

The personnel chiefs have pointed out that the MoD has said the MSP shall not be linked to status and rank.

The initial pay fixation for Colonels and Brigadiers was to be done as per scale “S-25” of the pay commission. Under the new instructions, the Colonels and Brigadiers have been given scale “S-24” that is applicable to a grade that is lower in the civil ranks. This means the initial pay of a Colonel will be reduced by Rs 1,300 while a Brigadier will lose Rs 3,000.

Source : The Tribune.

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