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New Year, new salary system for civic staff
- Mayor hopes to save 200,000 mandays a month

On a prod from the British Department for International Development (DFID), mayor Subrata Mukherjee has finalised a plan to save 200,000 mandays every month by introducing pay packets through salary accounts from New Year’s Day 2004.

The Calcutta Municipal Corporation (CMC) is getting Rs 212.25 crore by way of technical and financial support from the DFID for a capacity-building programme over the next six years.

The civic body spends Rs 320 crore a year by way of salaries to its employees. In the first phase, 8,000 employees working in the civic headquarters on SN Banerjee Road will start receiving their pay packets in newly-opened personal accounts at any of the four banks — Union Bank, Indian Bank, ICICI or Indian Overseas Bank — from January 1.

Besides, four automatic teller machines (ATMs) will be installed on the pavements girdling the CMC headquarters for their use. The spin-off benefit that the mayor expects to enjoy by installing ATMs on the pavements along the CMC building is to get rid of the three-year-long relay sit-in by empanelled block sarkars who have been denied employment in the civic body.

“Initially, for the 8,000 employees, who waste a lot of time drawing up their bills and collecting their pay, the time saved per month will be about 40,000 working mandays. It will rise to over 200,000 working mandays a month within six months’ time, when all 43,000 civic employees will be brought under the pay-packet-through-salary-account system,” indicated mayor Mukherjee on Wednesday.

DFID consultant Infrastructure Professionals Enterprise had prepared a draft report on programme management and implementation of the capacity-building programme for the CMC, in association with WSP-IMC, UK, and submitted it to the mayor recently.

In return of the service, the banks will get 0.5 per cent commission on the volume of payments handled. The mayor expects the total amount of commission will be to the tune of Rs 1.6 crore a year.

The civic authorities have decided to shell out the initial money required to open the salary accounts for the Group C and Group D employees.

According to Mukherjee, pay day in the CMC signifies an undeclared holiday in all departments. Since payment takes place on different dates for different departments, the disbursement of salary continues for the first 12 days of every month.

The new system will serve as a lifeline to help rescue the Group D employees from their perpetual indebtedness to money-lenders, the mayor pointed out.

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