PM to chair meeting on armed forces’ pay package

August 12th, 2008 - 8:06 pm ICT by IANS  

A file-photo of Manmohan Singh

New Delhi, Aug 12 (IANS) Prime Minister Manmohan Singh will chair a high-level meeting here Wednesday to take a final decision on increasing salaries and perks for armed forces personnel following their dissatisfaction over the Sixth Pay Commission report, an official said. “The meeting will finalise a notification on this and the prime minister will later announce it during his address to the nation on Independence Day (Aug 15),” the official told IANS.

Defence Minister A.K. Antony, Finance Minister P. Chidambaram and Cabinet Secretary K. Chandrashekhar will be among those who will attend the meeting.

Resentment has been brewing in the armed forces ever since the pay commission submitted its report May 24, with what was initially seen as a 40 percent hike in salaries being whittled down to 20 percent after taxes.

The armed forces submitted a joint memorandum on this to Antony, who promised them a fair deal. The three service chiefs also met the minister on a number of occasions to press for improvements in the pay commission’s recommendations.

The service chiefs are unhappy with the commission’s recommendations on several counts, sources say.

Firstly, they feel that their demand for parity with civilian employees has not been addressed. They are also not happy with the military service pay that has been recommended in a bid to reduce this disparity, the sources said.

Then, the service chiefs believe that after taking into account taxes and other deductions, the wage hike in real terms would amount to only 20 percent.

Besides, the service chiefs contend that personnel below officer rank (PBOR) have received a raw deal in the commission’s recommendations, the sources said.

An umbrella organisation of military veterans even wanted to organise a silent protest at the India Gate memorial to the Unknown Soldier but was prohibited from doing so.

The veterans were upset that the pay commission report did not adequately address their concerns.

The defence forces apart, the widespread anger among the government’s civilian employees prompted the appointment of a committee under the cabinet secretary to study the issue.

The recommendations for the 1.2 million defence personnel, in their present form, will entail an additional annual expenditure of Rs.63.86 billion ($1.5 billion).

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