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Saturday, December 26, 2015

Seventh Pay Commission: Delay salary hikes, five states tell Centre

AT LEAST five fiscally-stressed states have asked the Centre to go slow on implementation of the Seventh Pay Commission’s recommendations, seeking extra time to be able to absorb similar pay hikes, government officials said.

States usually follow the Central Pay Commission’s recommendations, and, with some modifications, announce roughly similar salary hikes for state government employees.

“There are several states who have approached the Prime Minister’s Office, Cabinet Secretary and Niti Aayog, seeking more time in implementation of the Seventh Pay Commission’s report,” said a government official familiar with the matter.

The five states are West Bengal, Tamil Nadu, Punjab, Uttar Pradesh and Odisha. The suggested delay will give the states more time to equip themselves with resources to meet higher salary bills.

The Seventh Pay Commission, headed by Justice A K Mathur, submitted its report to the government last month, recommending 23.55 per cent overall hike in pay, allowances and pensions of government employees with effect from January 1, 2016. This means the Centre’s salary bill will increase by Rs 1,02,100 crore in 2016-17.

“Punjab’s finances are under stress and the burden of the Pay Commission’s recommendations will certainly have an impact… Our officials have informally taken up the matter with the Centre,” confirmed Punjab Finance Minister P S Dhindsa.

“Normally they (states) adopt the Centre’s recommendations. This is the normal procedure, but it certainly depends upon their (states’) financial health. Some of the states have not even implemented the Sixth Pay Commission’s recommendation,” Justice Mathur told The Indian Express.

“Some of the states may have suggested (delayed implementation) to the government, but I don’t think the Government of India is in a bad position,” he said.

When contacted, Odisha’s Additional Chief Secretary (Finance Department), R Balakrishnan said: “At this stage, we don’t want to comment on it.”

Despite repeated calls and emails, West Bengal Finance Minister Amit Mitra’s office did not comment on the report. In September, the West Bengal government set up its Pay Commission to suggest a salary revision plan. The state commission is expected to follow on the Seventh Pay Commission’s recommendations.

Uttar Pradesh Chief Secretary Alok Ranjan said the state was yet to assess the fiscal implication of the Seventh Pay Commission’s recommendations. The Indian Express could not reach the Tamil Nadu government.

While salary revisions are due in these five states, the states which follow a different wage revision cycle, such as Andhra Pradesh, will not be impacted by the Seventh Pay Commission’s report.

Andhra Pradesh Principal Secretary, Dr P V Ramesh, said the state had revised salaries with effect from April 1, 2015, and the next revision is due only in 2019. “We follow a five-year pay revision cycle, which is not linked with the central cycle. The Seventh Pay Commission, therefore, will not have an impact on us,” he said.

Meanwhile, the Union finance ministry has set up an implementation cell for processing and implementing accepted recommendations of the Seventh Pay Commission.

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