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HindustanTimes Wed,27 Aug 2014

Punjabi University in grip of fiscal crisis, fails to clear dues of retirees

Navrajdeep Singh , Hindustan Times   Patiala, December 09, 2013
First Published: 22:33 IST(9/12/2013) | Last Updated: 22:38 IST(9/12/2013)

Though Punjabi University authorities have always made tall claims about sufficient funds with the university, yet it has failed to clear the dues of many of the retirees and this fact proves that the university is actually in a financial mess.

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Besides pending cases of payment of gratuity to the retirees, the university has also not released installment of dearness allowance to its employees. The pending dues thus run in crores.

However, if the university has been in a fiscal crisis, the blame goes to the state government also as it has failed to increase the annual budget of the university despite substantial hike in expenditure over the past several years.

The information gathered  by Hindustan Times revealed that nearly 90 cases of payment of gratuity to  superannuated employees, both teaching and non-teaching, worth nearly Rs. 5.5 crore have been lying pending with the finance department of the university since June 2012.

A teaching employee is entitled to Rs. 10 lakh as gratuity while a non-teaching one to Rs. 5 lakh.

Besides gratuity cases, as many as 42 cases of pension commutation are also lying pending. The retiring employees had applied for commutation of their pensions months ago but the cases have not been cleared so far. An employee can get his 20% of the pension commuted.

The university has also failed to release the DA installment for its employees from July onwards till October the payment of which was supposed to be made by November 30. The Punjab government and Guru Nanak Dev University have already paid the installment.

The information has further revealed that nearly 16 cases of leave encashment have been pending and medical bills worth Rs. 25-30 lakh are yet to be cleared.

"The university must clear the gratuity cases of retired employees on priority. Actually, dues of retirees should be have been cleared within a month as the authorities are informed of an employee's retirement six months in advance," said one of the senior retired functionaries, demanding anonymity.

Taking note of the financial situation, the university's financial advisory committee had recommended some austerity measures including slashing of major expenditures for one year to improve the financial situation but, surprisingly, the authorities have failed to take a serious note of these measures so far.

However, this is not for the first time that the university has delayed the payments of retirees. In the past also, cases of payment of pension and general provident fund (GPF) have lingered on for months.

When asked about the liabilities, finance officer Baljit Singh Sidhu refused to make any comment. However, registrar AS Chawla could not be contacted in spite of repeated attempts.

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