While most companies and businesses across the country are cutting down on employees or freezing salaries amid a worsening economic downturn, the Indian government is hiring, and paying more.
According to numbers contained in the Interim Budget unveiled on Monday, the government is estimated to add about 92,000, or 3 per cent more, to its staff strength through 2008-09, even as its outgo on salaries and allowances in the current fiscal year jumps 55 per cent from a year ago because of pay revisions.
And this is despite Indian Railways, the biggest employer, not hiring any new employees. In fact, without railways, the percentage increase in central government staff works out to 5 per cent.
No major company or business in the country seems to have hired on this scale in the past year. That’s not all; the government expects to add 42,800 new employees in the coming fiscal year and spend 23 per cent more on account of salaries and allowances.
The projections offer a limmer of hope for job seekers as the hiring outlook for private sector remains rather weak. On the contrary, private companies are increasingly looking to cut staff in the face sluggish demand and falling profits.
“If demand picks up, the corporates will be able to match up. But on the face of it, it looks challenging”, said Naresh Malhan, managing director of Manpower consulting.
Within the government, departments of revenue and audit & accounts led the hiring race, together adding nearly 30,000 new employees in 2008-09. Almost every major department hired more, except the department of posts, which is estimated to have cut its staff strength by 5,000 employees.