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Tripura staff grumble over pay

Agartala, Feb. 26: Tripura finance minister Badal Chowdhury has recently ruled out sanctioning a longstanding demand for grade pay for government officers and employees triggering resentment among over 1.8 lakh staff of the state government.

The resentment has been further fuelled by the Centre’s decision to grant one more instalment of dearness allowance (DA) at the rate of 10 per cent of basic pay with effect from January 1.

This will further widen the gap between DA drawn by state government employees and those of central government up to 43 per cent.

With the latest instalment of DA, central government employees will draw 100 per cent of DA and there is every possibility that before going to the next Lok Sabha polls, the UPA-II will announce merger of 50 per cent DA with the basic taking the gap between pay and allowances of state’s staff and central government employees to “unbridgeable level”.

“It is customary. When the DA reaches 100 per cent of the basic pay, 50 per cent of DA is merged with basic pay and the remaining amount is paid on the basis of the new basic which is naturally very high. Most of the state governments do the same but here in Tripura, we are drawing DA at the rate of only 57 per cent of basic pay. We still have a long way to go and before that the Centre is sure to constitute the Seventh Pay Commission for its employees,” said S.K. Roy, general secretary of the pro-Congress Karmachari Federation.

Attributing the “deprivation” of state’s employees and officers in terms of pay and allowances to “conscious and deliberate” policies of the Left Front government, Roy said after the Centre had constituted Sixth Central Pay Commission, the Left Front government formed a “pay review committee” which deprived the state’s employees and officers.

“The Left Front refrained from constituting a pay commission deliberately because a duly constituted pay commission enjoys functional autonomy and the state government cannot influence its functioning; so a pay review committee headed by a malleable officer was formed so that it worked toeing the line of the ruling CPM and it did so,” said Roy.

Describing pay and allowances being drawn by the state’s employees as the “lowest and abysmally poor in the entire country”, he said while implementing the recommendations of the pay review committee the state government had not given “grade pay” and merged only 1.74 per cent of DA with basic pay to fix new scales.

“The Sixth Central Pay Commission had given grade pay to central employees and merged 1.86 per cent of DA while fixing new scales of pay; it was only two months ahead of the last Assembly elections that the state government granted 1.86 per cent of DA merger with basic pay but the grade pay is yet to be given,” said Roy.

He said the leaders of the Left Front should visit other states of the Northeast to gather information about pay and allowances given by the state governments there.

Illustrating his point further, Roy said in the 2012-2013 financial year, the Left Front had failed to spend a whopping Rs 1,575.62 crore from non-plan head.

“What more is needed to prove the point of deliberate deprivation of employees; everybody knows that pay and allowances of employees and pension for retired employees constitute major components of the non-plan head and our Left Front kept such a big amount which could clear all the outstanding DA instalments unspent,” said Roy, citing data furnished in the state Assembly by the state government in October last year.