Thiruvananthapuram: The Kerala Government has ordered a freeze on the payment of salary arrears under the University Grants Commission (UGC) norms to teachers in universities and affiliated colleges citing severe financial crunch.
The teachers were recommended an increase in salary by the 7th Pay Commission and the state government had implemented the hike with effect from January 1, 2016. The state had also promised to clear the arrears in four installments - during this month, June 2023, January 2024 and June 2024.
The total amount needed to clear the arrears is Rs 2123.04 crore, which has to be shared equally by the state and the Centre. While the Centre is yet to allot its share, the state is struggling to find its contribution of Rs 1061.52 crore owing to the bad financial situation.
Projects on hold
Meanwhile, the Kerala cabinet on Wednesday decided to allot the same amount as last year for various departments, except the Local Self-Government (LSG) Department, in the upcoming budget, considering the monetary woes.
For the LSG Department, an increase of 0.5 per cent was recommended by the Planning Board based on instructions from the Finance Commission.
The Kerala budget is scheduled to be presented on February 3 and the total allotment amount for projects is expected to remain Rs 30,370 crore as last year.
Apart from the latest freeze on salary arrears of college teachers, the Kerala government has the following dues to clear:
Four installments of dearness allowance (DA) to state government employees, totaling 11 per cent. When the arrears of January 2023 are also taken into account, five installments would be pending.
Two installments of revised pension for service pensioners.
With empty coffers, the government merged the leave surrender encashment amount of employees to their provident fund (PF) accounts with the condition that it could be withdrawn only after four years.
Curbs removed on air travel
At the same time, the state government removed the restrictions on air travel within Kerala for Central service personnel such as IAS officers and department heads. Earlier, a spending limit of Rs 4,500 was fixed for Thiruvananthapuram – Kozhikode flight journey and Rs Rs 3,000 for Thiruvananthapuram – Kochi air trip. Henceforth, there would be no upper limit on ticket expenses.