The report of the Seventh Assam Pay and Productivity Pay Commission, recently handed over to the State government, was released on Monday. The recommendations of the Commission will now be studied by a select committee of the Fince department which will alyse it in detail and may suggest changes and modifications. It will then be placed before the State Cabinet in the first week of February 2017 for fil approval, and provisions will be made in the State Budget to be presented later in the same month, for additiol expenditure that will have to be incurred once the Budget is approved. The new pay scales recommended by the Seventh Assam Pay and Productivity Pay Commission will hopefully be implemented with effect from April 1, 2017 according to Assam’s Fince Minister, Himanta Biswa Sarma who addressed the media on Monday. Sarma also revealed that the Seventh Assam Pay and Productivity Pay Commission had been constituted by the State government in June 2015 with a mandate to submit the report within October 31, 2016. However, there was delay in releasing the recommendations to the public due to the model code of conduct on account for by-elections at some places. Sarma added that the fincial resources of the State and the composition of State employees were studied and the views of various employee organizations were taken into account for determining the principles of pay revision. The commission used the formula that had been used for determining the minimum pay on the lines of the Seventh Central Pay Commission (CPC). The Fince Minister informed jourlists that the fincial implication of the recommendations for the year 2017-18 is estimated to be Rs 3,238.28 crore of which Rs 2,942.07 crore are for the revision of salary and pension. On the issue of productivity pay, the minister said, “The matter relating to productivity pay has been closely examined and it is recommended that before introducing any scheme for such pay certain other prelimiry actions should be taken.”
One of the significant recommendations of the Commission relates to the minimum pay that has been fixed at Rs 15,900 which is 2.65 times the minimum pay of Rs 6,000 recommended by the Assam Pay Commission of 2008. The Commission has also recommended a maximum pay of Rs 130,000 as fixed pay, and with this the ratio of the maximum pay to minimum pay has become 8.18 as against 9.08 in case of the earlier Pay Commission’s recommendation. Other significant recommendations of the Seventh Assam Pay and Productivity Pay Commission are reduction in the number of grade pay, a modified scheme of a short career progression to facilitate more promotions, a three-per-cent rate of increment to be added on July 1 every year, a city compensatory allowance for employees working in Guwahati, proposed equalization of pay for the ministerial staff of district establishments and director-level establishments and family pension equal to the origil pension till seven years after the death of the pensioner.
These recommendations will undoubtedly be hailed by all State government employees. At the same time, it is imperative that the State government addresses itself to two important issues. The first relates to the extent of increase in salaries and allowances for a State government that has had to present deficit budgets for several years. An increase of 265 per cent in the minimum pay and corresponding increases in pay scales will result in a very substantial increase in the expenditure of the State government. It is the duty of the State government to ensure that it can identify and implement legitimate ways of increasing its revenue so that the quantum of deficit does not increase abnormally to jeopardise the government’s functioning. The other important issue is to ensure that the pay hike is linked as firmly as possible to productivity. Considering that the recommendations of the Seventh Assam Pay and Productivity Pay Commission are in some ways even better than that of the CPC, the people of Assam have a right to expect far better work ethics and productivity from government employees than what they are accustomed to now. The days of government employees choosing to work only between 12 noon and 3 p.m. and maging to get away with it must come to a very speedy end.