Nearly 3.5 lakh govt staff wait for salary in Kerala; Reports say govt mulls salary cap

Kerala Secretariat. File Photo: Manorama

Thiruvananthapuram: Salary payments have been delayed for nearly 3.5  lakh state government employees in Kerala, owing to an acute financial crisis. While the first working day of the month is the salary day for employees under departments such as revenue, police, GST and Secretariat, the payment is done for education and health departments on the second day. None of these employees have received their salary. 

Amid this, it is reported that the government is likely to implement a salary cap to manage the financial crisis. With this, the employees would not be able to withdraw their complete salary from their salary accounts.

Even though officials at the Treasury said that they were hopeful about arranging the necessary funds on Monday. But, there is uncertainty over whether the remaining government employees under departments such as Agriculture who have the third working day as their salary day also could be paid their salaries on that day. The total strength of state government employees in Kerala is around 5.25 lakh.

Incidentally, the government credited the salary of eligible employees in their ETSB (Employee Treasury Savings Bank) on Friday itself. However, the amounts were frozen and the employees could neither withdraw the money nor transfer it to other bank accounts.

The Secretariat Action Council, an umbrella body of various opposition service organisations, staged a protest in front of the Secretariat in Thiruvananthapuram on Saturday against the delay in salary payments. 

The Finance Minister and top Finance Department officials claimed that employees were not able to withdraw money from their ETSB accounts owing to a technical issue. However, they did not explain the reason for the issue faced by numerous employees. 

Meanwhile, the pensioners in the state – numbering around 1.25 lakh – did not face any trouble transferring the pension amounts from the treasury to their bank accounts on Friday. Pensions were also paid directly from the treasuries on Friday and Saturday. Moreover, account holders could personally collect the interest on their fixed deposits from the treasury. However, they could not transfer the amounts to their bank accounts online.

Opposition leader, V D Satheesan, in a statement, alleged that the crisis was a result of the state government's "corruption, mismanagement and extravagance" and urged it to issue a white paper clarifying the financial situation of Kerala. He contended that due to the government's alleged mismanagement of finances, all social security schemes are under threat and all welfare funds have stopped.

Satheesan claimed that the social security pension has been suspended for the last seven months and as a result around 55 lakh people, including the poor, widows, differently abled and the elderly, are facing difficulties in getting food or buying medicine.

(With PTI inputs)

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