The over month-long Budget session, starting March 9, will provide Finance Minister Arun Jaitley the perfect opportunity to make an announcement on implementation of allowances.
Government employees have been waiting for an announcement on allowances since the last eight months. The recommendations of the Seventh Pay Commission were cleared by the Narendra Modi cabinet on June 29 last year.
During the first part of the Budget session, the Finance Minister made no mention of the Seventh Pay Commission. Government employees had pinned their hopes on Jaitley’s Budget speech to hear some good news on hike in allowances.
Now, with the Assembly elections in five states coming to a close on March 8, the model code of conduct too will be lifted simultaneously.
Therefore, all eyes are now on the second part of the Budget session which commences on March 9 and will continue till April 12. The over month-long session will provide enough time to Arun Jaitley to make an announcement that will benefit nearly 50 lakh government employees.
WHERE DOES THE SEVENTH PAY COMMISSION STORY STANDS:
In June last year, the government cleared the recommendations of the Seventh Pay Commission. The commission recommended a 14.27 per cent hike in basic pay, which was the lowest in 70 years.
The hike in aggregate pay stood at 23.5 per cent under the Seventh Pay Commission, with the minimum pay increased from Rs 7,000 to Rs 18,000.
The government then announced that employees would draw increased pay in their August salary, and would simultaneously get the arrears calculated from January 1, 2016.
The Seventh Pay Commission recommended abolishing 53 of the 196 allowances of government employees. It also suggested that some allowances be merged.
The pay commission suggested reducing the house rent allowance (HRA) in metros to 24 per cent from 30 per cent of basic pay, a move that did not go down well with employees who protested against the recommendations.
The government appointed a committee under Finance Secretary Ashok Lavasa to review the recommendations in July last year. This Committee on Allowances was given four months to submit its report; the deadline was later extended to February 22, 2017.
According to reports, the Committee on Allowances submitted its report to the Finance Ministry on the appointed date. If reports are to be believed, the Committee suggested keeping the HRA at 30 per cent of the basic pay as under the Sixth Pay Commission. Transport allowance too would remain the same, said reports.
While the government avoided making any announcement on implementation of allowances this financial year, employees expect the good news to come before April 1 so that they can draw revised salaries from the new financial year.