14 August : Civil servants, armed forces and paramilitary personnel will get to rejoice this Independence Day with the government all set to approve the Sixth Pay Commission report in its Cabinet meeting on Thursday.
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Wednesday chaired a meeting attended by External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee, Defence Minister A K Antony and Finance Minister P Chidambaram and discussed the pay commission report and the recommendations of the empowered committee of Secretaries that went into the anomalies.
"The Cabinet is likely to take up the sixth pay panel report for approval tomorrow and the matter was discussed at a meeting chaired by the PM today," official sources said.
Though the sources refused to share details of the meeting or the amendment to the pay panel report submitted by its chairperson Justice Sri Krishna earlier this year, the increase over the commission’s recommendations are likely to be the tune of 1.83 times of the net pay for the armed forces personnel and a substantial raise for civil servants too.
The pay commission had originally recommended that the pay for the armed forces be hiked by 1.74 times, calculated on the basis of the inflationary factors.
When the Sixth Pay Commission had submitted its report, armed forces personnel had expressed their resentment, openly that also led to protest rallies by retired personnel, demanding a better deal considering the hardship factor involved in their services.
The tri-services top bosses too had done some hard lobbying with the Defence Minister, who in turn had batted on behalf of the armed forces with the Finance Ministry.
The government then set up a high-powered committee headed by Cabinet Secretary K M Chandrasekhar to look into the anomalies pointed out by different sections of the government servants, including those from the defence services.
Among the pay panel recommendations that led to a heart burn among the armed forces personnel were the "low hikes" in their salaries, even as the panel had recommended up to 40 percent hikes in the salaries of personnel, both officers and other ranks.
They were also unhappy with the "measly" amount of Rs 1,000 to be paid as Military Service Pay to other ranks, while the officers all across ranks got a MSP of Rs 6,000.
The demand put forth before the empowered committee of secretaries by the Defence Ministry was Rs 3,000 MSP for other ranks.
There was another irritant in the Sixth Pay Panel recommendations over the dilution of status of armed forces officers vis-a-vis their counterparts in the civil services.
The tri-services pointed out that while an officer in the Army and its equivalent in Navy and Air Force took 30 years to pick up the rank of major-general, the civil services officers became joint secretaries in the government after just 14 years of service.
They had also pointed out that the sixth pay panel had reduced the number of pay bands to two between Lieutenants and Brigadiers.
This led to stagnation of officers in the rank of Lt Colonel and above without picking up the corresponding increments if they were not selected for the next rank in the promotion boards, though they may have served in the rank for the same number of years as their civilian counterparts.
Though all of the armed forces personnel’s demands may not be acceded to by the government, it is likely to increase the MSP for other ranks from the existing recommendation of Rs 1,000 to Rs 2,000, sources said. Courtsey DDINEWS