Four Increments to LS Staff Draw Flak from Mukherjee

For unilaterally granting four increments in one stretch to all Lok Sabha Secretariat employees, Speaker Meira Kumar has landed into trouble as Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee has formally said that he doesn’t support the move, which should have been first discussed with his ministry.

The controversy about the move is in main about sanctioning increments over and above the sixth pay commission recommendations. Disbursal has already started and arrears have been paid, as well. The move executed without the concurrence of the Finance Ministry is believed to cost over Rs 100 crore, said reports.

By an order issued through the Lok Sabha Secretary General on September 22, Kumar authorized grant of “two advance increments each” with effect from April 1 and April 2, 2007 to “all employees in the revised structure of pay, as a one time measure”.

The justification given was that this would remove “pay anomalies” and the expenditure would be borne from the Lok Sabha budget.

The controversy arose when employees of Rajya Sabha Secretariat too insisted on the same increments from Vice-President Hamid Ansari, who, in turn, took up the matter with Parliamentary Affairs Ministry Pawan Bansal, for a joint committee having representation from both Houses and the Finance Ministry clears such decisions.

It may be mentioned that the Lok Sabha has some 2,900 employees while the Rajya Sabha has 1,300.

Bansal raised the issue with Mukherjee, who, in his response on November 17, said:  “There appears to be no justification in granting advance increments in the case of those employees who are already in receipt of a substantial amount as ‘special pay’ for performing their duties. On the recommendations of the sixth CPC (central pay commission), the government has granted Military Service Pay to Defence Forces’ officers and PBORs. However, they have not been granted any advance increments. Hence, the grant of advance increments to the employees of Lok Sabha Secretariat is likely to generate a demand from various other sections of employees of central government and courts etc, to grant them similar benefit.”

The minister made it clear that according to relevant provisions of the Lok Sabha, any such decision should be taken after consultation with the Finance Ministry.

“In view of Lok Sabha Secretariat (Recruitment & Conditions of Service) Rules 1955… the above modification to pay, conditions of service of the Lok Sabha Secretariat employees should have been done by that Secretariat after consultation with the Ministry of Finance. The same has not been done in the instant case,” he said.

Reports said that issue was raised by some Opposition MPs with Ansari at an end-of-the session meeting last week in the presence of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh. They sought to know the reason for Rajya Sabha delaying its decision when Lok Sabha had already implemented the increments.

Reports said that Bansal, at that point, revealed that he, along with Mukherjee, had already spoken to the Speaker and explained the problems caused by her order.

Having already started implementation, Lok Sabha Secretariat is now faced with a difficult question as this is bound to create a budgetary deficit which North Block is in no mood to bridge.

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