India’s military chiefs unhappy with pay panel recommendations

March 27th, 2008 - 12:58 am ICT by admin  

A file-photo of P. Chidambaram

New Delhi, March 26 (IANS) India’s military chiefs are unhappy with a panel’s recommendations on the salaries of government employees and plan to raise the issue during a meeting with Defence Minister A.K. Antony on Thursday, official sources said. “The meeting had already been scheduled but the recommendations of the Sixth Pay Commission are bound to overshadow the discussions,” a source said Wednesday, speaking on condition of anonymity.

“A draft has been prepared and will be discussed with the minister,” the source added.

On his part, Antony was guarded in his reaction to the commission’s report, presented to Finance Minister P. Chidambaram Tuesday and which recommends a 40 percent across-the-board pay hike for the armed forces personnel. The panel has made a similar recommendation for civilian employees.

“I will not comment now. Let me first study the report and discuss it with all concerned. I will react after that,” Antony told reporters on the sidelines of a defence awards function here Wednesday.

The fact that the service chiefs were disappointed was clearly indicated by the Indian Navy chief, Admiral Sureesh Mehta.

“We will closely study the report and then meet the pay commission,” he told reporters on the sidelines of another defence function here Wednesday.

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

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.

The wage increases recommended by the four-member pay panel headed B.N. Srikrishna, a former Supreme Court judge, could see the top generals getting as much as Rs.90,000 a month.

The recommendations translate into a take-home package - before tax - of Rs.25,760 for officers at the entry level of lieutenants and equivalent and rising to a maximum of Rs.65,090 for lieutenant generals and their equivalents.

The vice chiefs of the three services and army commanders and equivalents - also three-star officers - will get a fixed salary of Rs.80,000 per month.

In the case of PBORs, the commission has recommended that at the entry level, sepoys (privates) and their equivalents receive a minimum of Rs.7,860, rising to a maximum of Rs.40,600 for subedar majors and their equivalents.

The commission has for the first time recommended Rs.6,000 per month as military service pay for all defence personnel till the rank of brigadier and equivalent.

For Military Nursing Service personnel, the military service pay will be Rs.4,200 per month, while PBORs will get Rs.1,000 per month.

The recommendations will entail additional annual expenditure of Rs.63.86 billion ($1.5 billion) in the defence sector, the commission said in its report. It also said the exchequer would stand to save Rs.18 billion if its other recommendations are implemented.

The report will now go to the cabinet for its consideration.

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