Military top brass meets Antony on pay hike

June 27th, 2008 - 10:40 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, June 26 (IANS) Defence Minister A.K. Antony Thursday discussed with the Indian military’s top brass the draft of a high-level committee’s review of the Sixth Pay Commission’s recommendations but the meeting remained inconclusive. The defence ministry refused to comment on the meeting, an indication that nothing concrete has been achieved. It was also not clear whether another meeting would he held to address the armed forces’ concern over being short-changed by the pay panel as they were expecting substantial hikes against the 40 percent raise that had been proposed.

Antony’s meeting with Indian Navy chief Admiral Sureesh Mehta, Indian Air Force chief Air Chief Marshal Fali Homi Major and Indian Army vice chief Lt. Gen. M.L. Naidu was being viewed as a last-ditch effort to address the discontent in the armed forces over the pay panel report.

The government set up an empowered committee headed by Cabinet Secretary K.M. Chandrasekhar to suggest improvements in the pay panel report after several groups of government employees - with the armed forces being the most vociferous - expressed their unhappiness over the recommendations.

The committee is expected to submit its final report in the first week of July.

There has been large-scale resentment among the rank and file of the armed forces over what they see as the disparity between them and civilian employees.

The military chiefs had previously met Antony April 1 and submitted a memorandum on the pay commissions findings.

The army has been hit with a large number of requests for early retirement following the panel’s recommendations, even as it is facing a shortage of 11,200 officers. Earlier, around 3,000 mid-level commanders had sought voluntary retirement to move to the lucrative private sector.

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 military service pay (MSP) for officers up to the rank of brigadier and equivalent, as also for personnel below officer rank (PBORs).

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

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