Defence ministry to pursue soldiers’ pay issue

April 4th, 2008 - 10:47 pm ICT by admin  

New Delhi, April 4 (IANS) The defence ministry will take up with the finance ministry its grievances over the sixth Pay Commission’s recommendations for personnel below the officer rank who have not benefited from the pay panel’s proposals. A three-member pay panel, which met Defence Minister A.K. Antony Friday, indicated that it was open for amendments. The decision was taken by Antony during the meeting held at the defence headquarters in South Block.

Antony said that coming face to face with the pay panel had helped clarify many doubts and the forces were in a better position to speak about their problems, an official said, briefing reporters after the meeting.

According to the official, Antony said at the meeting that there is still scope for the defence ministry to take up the problems with the Anomalies Committee of the finance ministry. The government will take a decision as it deems fit later.

Besides the defence minister, the Indian Air Force chief Air Chief Marshal Fali Homi Major, and the vice-chiefs of the army and navy staff and other senior officials attended the meeting.

“The panel gave a presentation regarding its recommendations for the personnel below officer rank (PBORs), who the defence services feel have been given a raw deal by the Pay Commission,” the official said.

“The panel highlighted that it is for the first time that a Military Service Pay (MSP) was recommended for the PBORs. Moreover, if the PBORs do not get married accommodation, they will be given house rent allowance at par with the civilians,” the official added.

Defence personnel constitute 40 percent of the government workforce (after excluding the Indian Railways) but the total central expenditure diverted to them stands at 61 percent, the pay panel presentation said.

“A strong plea was made to increase the MSP for the soldiers. They are the ones who have benefited the least,” the official said.

The defence forces have sought a three times’ hike in the MSP for the soldiers from the recommended Rs.1,000.

On April 1, the service chiefs submitted a memorandum to Antony complaining of being short changed in the pay panel’s recommendations. The chiefs contended that more than the officers, the soldiers deserved to be better compensated.

This is the second such meeting in a week, with the service chiefs having met the minister March 27 - three days after the commission presented its report covering 1.2 million armed forces personnel and another three million civilian employees.

The pay commission, headed by former Supreme Court Justice B.N. Srikrishna, has recommended a 40 percent across-the-board pay hike for armed forces personnel, doubling their allowances and MSP for officers up to the rank of brigadier and equivalent, as also for PBORs.

The service chiefs’ petition had focused on four key areas.

Apart from pushing the case for PBORs, they pointed out that after taking into account taxes and other deductions, the wage hike in real terms would amount to only 20 percent.

Then, the demand for parity of armed forces personnel with civilian employees has not been addressed, the memorandum said.

It also expressed unhappiness with the military service pay that has been recommended in a bid to reduce this disparity, the sources said.

The pay panel had recommended military service pay of Rs.6,000 for officers up to the level of brigadier and equivalent and of Rs.1,000 for PBORs.

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