Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh on Tuesday announced a 7% dearness allowance to government employees while presiding over a joint consultative committee meeting of the state Employees Federation on Tuesday. The enhanced dearness allowance will be paid effective from July 2014 and arrears will be deposited in the employees' provident fund accounts by next March.
A government official said the measure, from which employees will benefit by Rs 1,400 to Rs 6,500 every month, will impose an additional financial burden of Rs 300 crore on the state exchequer.
The agenda of today's meeting contained 95 items while discussions could be held on only 15 of them. Besides DA, the government also announced an increase in income limit to Rs 1.50 lakh from the present Rs 1.25 lakh for granting jobs on compassionate grounds.
"Though it was tough task, but at last all government employees have come under the umbrella of a single federation," Virbhadra remarked after the meeting.
The first item on the agenda was raising the retirement age from the existing 58 to 60 years. The government said the one-year term extension scheme would continue in the state.
Meanwhile, Virbhadra said the previous state government had adopted a "divide and rule policy" by "dividing the NGO body into several separate units" which he claimed proved detrimental for government employees. "Sensing my imminent entry into state politics, former chief minister Prem Kumar Dhumal announced sops for government employees a few months before the assembly elections without stopping to think that it would put an extra burden of Rs 1,300 crore on the state treasury. As a result the coffers were near empty when the present state government took over," he added.
"The 13th Finance Commission had not even given an equal treatment to the state despite the fact that preferential treatment to a special category state like Himachal Pradesh was required to be given", Virbhadra said, expressing hope that the 14th commission would take a sympathetic look at the state's finances.
Contract employees disappointed
The Himachal Sarv Anoobandh Karmchari Mahasangh has expressed displeasure at the outcome of Tueday's joint consultative committee meeting of the state Employees Federation. In a press statement, its chief, Pawan Kumar Saini, said; "Contract employees had pinned hopes on the meeting but their demands were not met." The group has threatened to hold protests outside the state assembly building during the budget session.