Thiruvananthapuram: The Eleventh Pay Commission, appointed to revise the salaries and pensions of state government employees, teachers and pensioners, will submit its report by December itself without seeking any extension.
The commission had curtailed its activities, including visits to other states, as part of cost-cutting measures.
The commission’s term ends on December 31 and it has decided not to approach the government to seek an extension. In the past, there have been pay commissions that have been in place for up to two years as they sought many extensions.
The panel's interactions with department secretaries had reached halfway when the triple lockdown was announced to contain COVID.
After the lockdown was withdrawn, the commission started holding discussions with service organisations through Google Meet. This will be completed by September 22.
After this, the commission will resume its interactions with the department heads. The report is being prepared simultaneously along with the discussions.
The commission was set up last November with K Mohandas, the former secretary of the Union shipping ministry, as the chairman and M K Sukumaran Nair and Ashok Mammen Cherian as members.
If the report is received in December, a Cabinet sub-committee will be appointed to examine it. The government expects the Assembly elections to be announced in March. The Cabinet could approve the report before that in February and announce the pay reform. As usual, the next government will have to bear the additional cost of increased salaries, pensions and other benefits.
Deducted salary may be added to PF or repaid in instalments
The one-month’s salary deducted from employees due to the lockdown crisis may be added to their PF accounts. There is also a plan to repay the amount in instalments.
The government had deducted six days’ salary for five months. This, in effect, meant deduction of a month’s salary. The last six-day deduction was done with the salary disbursed this month. Although the government had promised the High Court that it will repay the deducted salary, the current financial situation does not allow it to make the full payment together.
With the decision to pay the social security pension on a monthly basis, the financial management of each month will become more complicated. The government has to spend Rs 4,000 crore at the beginning of every month on monthly salaries and pensions. It will now have to find another Rs 650 crore to pay social security pension by the end of every month.
As usual, the government will resort to borrowing from the public market through the Reserve Bank, especially since the Centre has not been paying the GST compensation that is due to states. Kerala will also have to soon accept the Centre’s proposal that states themselves should borrow to make up for the GST compensation shortfall.
The government also has to pay employees three instalments of dearness allowance. The ban on leave surrender benefit expires this month. Employees are worried that this may be extended.