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Mamata flashes DA freeze signal

Calcutta, Aug. 16: A government employees’ union today quoted chief minister Mamata Banerjee as saying they should not expect a revision in dearness allowance for at least the next three months.

If the cash-strapped administration sticks to such a freeze, it will be a rare instance where the new government is taking a break from its populist streak and asking the employees to share the pain of the financial crisis.

“We demanded the revision of DA due to us. The chief minister, however, told us that the government was not in a position to revise DA within the next three months,” said Ananta Banerjee, general secretary of CPM-backed West Bengal State Government Employees’ Co-ordination Committee.

He was referring to a meeting between the chief minister and state government employees’ associations over their various demands, including the revision of DA. An official said the government owes DA equivalent to 16 per cent of the basic pay of its employees.

Mamata refused comment after the meeting.

A Trinamul-backed leader more or less confirmed what the CPM union said but added that the government would try to clear the arrears before the Pujas in October.

“The chief minister said the financial condition was not good and DA could not be revised for at least another three months. However, the government was trying to pay the arrears before the Pujas,” said Sanket Chakraborty, the general secretary of the Trinamul-affiliated Federation of Secretariat Employees.

Government salary and pension and interest outgo eat up as much as 93 per cent of the funds Bengal earns.

Panchayat poll alert

Mamata has asked her party leaders to start preparing for elections to the three-tier panchayats. The polls are likely to be held within 18 months.

At a close-door meeting of Trinamul representatives at Town Hall, she also asked ministers to prepare reports on their performance in the first 100 days of the government.

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