Monday, December 28, 2009

Speaker hikes Lok Sabha staff pay, Finance Minister objects

Lok Sabha Speaker Meira Kumar has run into trouble with the government for unilaterally granting four increments in one go to all Lok Sabha Secretariat employees. Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee has now put it on record that he does not support the move, which ought to have been first discussed with his ministry.

In what is turning into a controversial and complicated issue, the increments have been given over and above the sixth pay commission hikes. Disbursal has already started and arrears too have been paid. It is learnt that this will cost over Rs 100 crore, and was done without concurrence of the Finance Ministry.

By an order on September 22, issued through the Lok Sabha Secretary General, the Speaker authorised grant of “two advance increments each” with effect from April 1 and April 2, 2007 to “all employees in the revised structure of pay, as a one time measure”. The justification given was that this would remove “pay anomalies” and the expenditure would be borne from the Lok Sabha budget.

Matters, however, came to a head when Rajya Sabha Secretariat employees demanded the same from Vice-President Hamid Ansari who raised the issue with Parliamentary Affairs Minister Pawan Bansal as any such financial decision has to be cleared by a joint committee which has representation from both Houses and the Finance Ministry.

The Lok Sabha has some 2,900 employees while the Rajya Sabha has 1,300.

Bansal then took up the matter with Mukherjee who responded on November 17: “There appears to be no justification in granting advance increments in the case of those employees who are already in receipt of a substantial amount as ‘special pay’ for performing their duties. On the recommendations of the sixth CPC (central pay commission), the government has granted Military Service Pay to Defence Forces’ officers and PBORs. However, they have not been granted any advance increments. Hence, the grant of advance increments to the employees of Lok Sabha Secretariat is likely to generate a demand from various other sections of employees of central government and courts etc, to grant them similar benefit.”

Source : Indian Express.

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