Salary challenge: Finance Minister proposes 18 days' cut with no benefits and two other alternatives

Rahul Gandhi. (File Photo: IANS)

Thiruvananthapuram: Kerala Finance Minister Thomas Isaac has proposed to reduce the strain of salary cuts by deducting only 18 days' salary instead of one month’s. However, if this proposal is accepted, there won’t be any extension of PF loan and Onam advance repayment period, he said at a meeting of employees’ organisations.

The minister has also put forward two other options. The organisations have been told to choose one and let the government know of their decision by Wednesday. Later, another discussion will take place to take a final decision.

Although the minister said during the meeting that a salary cut will not be forced on the employees, the government is of the view that it should be deducted from everyone.

Faced with a drastic fall in revenues due to COVID-19, the Kerala government has been resorting to deferring the salaries of government employees to alleviate the crisis. It had deferred the salaries from April to August as the COVID crisis deepened. But since there has been no improvement in the state’s finances, it plans to extend the deferment for a few more months and has called it the COVID-19 Income Support Scheme (CISS). The government has now offered the following three options to employees under the scheme:

Option 1

The amount equal to one month's salary to be deducted over the next six months. If required, an interest-free loan equal to the last salary cut will be provided next month through financial institutions, including banks, to those who will be strained by this deduction. In such cases, the 9 per cent interest that the government had promised to pay employees on salaries deducted till the amount is merged with PF accounts, will instead be paid to banks. The loan has to be repaid when the employees get the deducted salaries back.

Option 2

The disbursement issue of salaries was ironed out on Friday as treasuries worked overtime after the chaos created by the Salary Challenge scheme's execution on Thursday, November 1.

Deducting the amount equal to one month’s salary over six months. The PF contribution for this period will be reduced to 6 per cent. The repayment of PF loan and Onam advance will be postponed for six months.

Option 3

Deducting three days salary per month for six months. However, there will be no concessions offered under the first two options. In effect, 18 days’ salary will be deducted instead of 30 days' salary.

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