MAIL TODAY: Army Chief to be paid more than Cab Secy!

A fantastic piece by Mail Today defence correspondent Suman Sharma - her break on the Sixth Pay Commission for the defence forces. Here it is in full:

THE JUSTICE B. N. Srikrishna Committee Report on the Sixth Central Pay Commission recommendations, promising a 40 per cent hike for all central government employees, was handed over to the Finance Ministry on Thursday. (Click the table to see what the pay recommendations are, rankwise).

The report is especially generous to the armed forces. If the recommendations are approved, the service chiefs will draw more than the Cabinet Secretary, with their salary at Rs 1 lakh per month as compared to the Cabinet Secretary, whose salary has been ' fixed' at Rs 80,000 per month. As far as central government employees are concerned, the scales have been reduced from 38 to 16, starting with a group D peon and going up to Cabinet Secretary.

The recommendations envisage a running scale up to the rank of director, but from the rank of Joint Secretary up, the pay scales have been fixed. This was earlier true only for secretaries and the cabinet secretary. The pay commission has recommended fixed scales from the level of joint secretary ( Rs 60,000) to the cabinet secretary ( Rs 80,000).

A senior bureaucrat said, “ Even with a difference of five years in service, personnel in the bureaucracy will get the same amount.” But given that the recommendations virtually amount to a threefold increase in basic pay, the bureaucracy has very little reason to complain. The generous hike for the armed forces incorporates an additional bonanza in the form of Military Service Pay ( MSP). The MSP is in the nature of a hardship allowance and has been recommended at 10 percent of the emoluments. However, the service chiefs, army commanders and their equivalents in other services will not be entitled to the MSP.

The emoluments for armed forces personnel are: if approved, an army Major will draw Rs 32,000 per month, a full Colonel Rs 45,000 per month, a Brigadier Rs 65,000 per month, a Major General Rs 78,000 per month and a Lieutenant- General a whopping Rs 90,000 per month. Their equivalents in the Navy and Air Force will also be at the same pay scales. The pay commission recommendations have been made against the backdrop of a serious shortage of defence officers in all wings. This shortfall is 11,153; 1,430 and 1,368 for the Army, Navy and Air Force respectively.

The recommendations are likely to put an additional burden of Rs 20,000 crore on the central exchequer annually, mainly due to the bloated central bureaucracy which is consistently ranked amongst the most inefficient in the world. If past experience is anything to go by, it is the states which have the most to fear. Some were driven to the point of bankruptcy by the Fifth Pay Commission because they had to give similar hikes to their employees.

In 2005, some states sought a mechanism that would prevent a pay revision unless they were consulted. Among the Fifth Pay Commission’s important recommendations were slashing the government workforce by 30 per cent; abolishing 3,50,000 vacant posts and reducing the number of pay scales from 51 to 34. Not one of these was implemented. The last pay commission suggested that salary hikes should be linked to downsizing government staff, efficiency and administrative reforms. The government only implemented the monetary benefits.

Given the political signals since the budget was presented, the Sixth Pay Commission’s recommendations are in keeping with the Congress’s run up to the polls. Once again, then, there is little likelihood of the bureaucracy being scaled back even while salary hikes across the board are likely to be approved.

The B. N. Srikrishna Committee report will be put up in Parliament for approval next week. The four- member Sixth Pay Commission headed by Justice Srikrishna was set up in October 2006 to review the wages of nearly 33 lakh central government employees. Sitanshu Kar, the defence ministry’s additional director general for media and communication told MAIL TODAY, “We are waiting for the (pay commission) report after the review from the finance ministry. We are hoping for a good deal.”

The story is Copyright MAIL TODAY.

Labels: ,