The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Punjab proceeds with VRS proposal

Chandigarh, Dec. 30: After dilly-dallying for months, the Punjab government today approved a voluntary retirement scheme for employees in public sector undertakings.

The decision was taken at a Cabinet meeting in which a similar scheme for other employees was also discussed.

The Congress government led by chief minister Amarinder Singh has been toying with the idea of introducing a VRS after taking over from the Shiromani Akali Dal-BJP coalition in February. But the new administration failed to proceed due to financial constraints.

The Punjab government’s VRS decision comes in the wake of pressure from prospective buyers of these public sector units. The state government is saddled with cumulative losses of more than Rs 15,000 crore in its companies.

Amarinder has been saying: “It is not the government’s job to run industries.”

“The money that will come by selling loss-making and even profit-making units can be utilised on other fronts like building roads, schools and hospitals,” said an official. “At the moment, the government is funding units from the budget.”

Earlier, the state government’s disinvestment commission recommended the sale of 43.96 per cent in Punjab Communications Ltd, a company owned by Punjab State Electronics Development & Production Corporation, to a strategic partner on condition that it would pick up another 26 per cent after two years at a negotiated rate not less than the earlier offer.

The commission had also recommended that the strategic partner would have to retain all employees of Punjab Communications for at least one year and offer a voluntary retirement package not less than the one offered by the state.

Punjab’s disinvestment list includes Punjab Communications Ltd, Punjab Tractors Ltd and Punjab Alkalies & Chemicals Ltd. A senior official said the VRS will apply to employees with over five years of service in a PSU and to those with a minimum five remaining. An employee opting for the VRS will be paid 35 days’ salary for every year of service and 25 days’ wages for service years remaining.

The compensation would be a minimum of Rs 25,000 or salary for 250 days, whichever is higher. Employees opting for voluntary retirement within 60 days of leaving service would be paid full ex gratia in cash.

The state Cabinet also approved recommendations of the fourth Punjab pay commission with regard to the classification of posts. The commission has suggested that services be classified according to salaries.

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