Shillong, July 31: The declaration of a hike in minimum wages and the nod to create a new department a fortnight after the poll panel issued notification for the Laitumkhrah byelection, scheduled for August 18, has landed the Meghalaya government in trouble.
After the cabinet meeting at chief minister D.D. Lapang’s residence yesterday morning, deputy chief minister Mukul Sangma announced the enhancement of minimum wages for the three categories of labour in the state and Lapang said the cabinet had given clearance to the creation of a water resource department.
Ampareen Lyngdoh, the Congress candidate contesting the Laitumkhrah seat and a minister in the MUA government attended the meeting.
The Election Commission announced the byelection on July 16. With the announcement, the model code of conduct came into effect at once.
Chief electoral officer P. Naik said he had sent a letter to the government today, urging it either to keep in abeyance the decisions to enhance the minimum wages and create a new department or to get the Election Commission’s clearance.
Naik told this correspondent today that the decision to enhance the minimum wages was definitely a violation of the model code of conduct.
“I also feel that the cabinet nod to the creation of the new water resources department may also lead to invocation of the provisions under the model code of conduct,” he added.
The byelection was necessitated after Ampareen who contested on a UDP ticket in the 2008 Assembly elections, resigned as an MLA on March 31 this year and joined the Congress when it was trying to topple the NCP-UDP led government.
For this, she was assured a ministry. The promise was fulfilled when the MUA government came to power in May this year.
Naik said the department that recommended the implementation of enhancement of minimum wages should have sought the opinion of the election department before recommending it to the cabinet.
“I will have to check which department had given the nod for the creation of the water resource department at this juncture.”
After yesterday’s cabinet meeting, the deputy chief minister said the government had decided to enhance the rate of minimum daily wages for unskilled, semi-skilled and skilled labour to Rs 100, 120 and Rs 140 respectively.
Report submitted: This evening, the empowered committee headed by principal secretary, finance, B.K. Dev Verma examined the percentage of pay hike to be implemented for government employees, submitted its report to Lapang.
An official source said the report had given more or less the same recommendations as that of the Fourth Pay Commission headed by former chief secretary K.K. Sinha. It submitted the report to the government at the end of last year.
Chief secretary Ranjan Chatterjee said the committee by and large agreed to the recommendations of the Fourth Pay Commission. If implemented, the pay hike will be applicable to 60,000 government employees and 20,000 government teachers.
Chatterjee said the finance department would meet soon to prepare a cabinet memorandum regarding the pay hike and later the matter will be discussed in the cabinet. Lapang and Sangma along with a few officials had stayed almost a week in Delhi to take up the issue of pay hike with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and finance minister Pranab Mukherjee.