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MP proposes 5-year furlough for govt employees to save expenditure

Bhopal: The Madhya Pradesh government is considering a scheme to save as much as 6000 crore by offering its employees in non-essential departments a furlough as long as five years at half-pay, a state official said
PUBLISHED ON JUL 23, 2021 12:17 AM IST

Bhopal: The Madhya Pradesh government is considering a scheme to save as much as 6000 crore by offering its employees in non-essential departments a furlough as long as five years at half-pay, a state official said.

During the period of paid leave, the employees are free to work elsewhere or start their own businesses . After the furlough, they have an option to retire or return to work.

According to a senior MP finance department official who asked not to be named, the proposal for the scheme has been readied. The state is reeling under a debt of 2.53 lakh crore and revenues have plunged by up to 30% because of Covid-19’s adverse impact on economy.

“We have sent the proposal for the chief minister’s approval,” added the official. There is an estimate that about 70,000 to 100,000 employees will avail this benefit.

State finance minister Jagdish Deoda confirmed that the scheme is part of the government’s plan to save expenditure.

“We all know that lockdown left a negative impact on government revenue. So, we are trying to increase the revenue from many other sources and also trying to cut the expenditure. This scheme is a part of this plan,” he said.

The department has proposed that government employees and officers in non-essential departments would be allowed to take leave for three to five years at half-pay.

“The government employees will be allowed to take up another (private sector) job or business during this period. They will not get any increments or extra allowances during this period, but this leave period will not break their service,” the finance department official added.

However, employees facing departmental inquiry or who are under suspension will not be allowed to avail the scheme. Employees of essential departments such as home, health, education and revenue will not be part of the scheme, the official said.

A second government official said an internal survey showed that those earning less than 1 lakh, or above the age of 50 years, were excited by the scheme.

It is not for the first time that such a scheme is being introduced in the state. In 2002, then chief minister, Digvijaya Singh, had introduced a similar scheme to reduce government expenditure. The scheme was withdrawn a year later in 2003, when the Bharatiya Janata Party came to power, replacing the incumbent Congress.

In an effort to shore up its finance, the state government set up a public asset management department in September 2020 for the efficient management and rationalization of public assets, including monetization of unused properties. Through tenders, the state government has auctioned at least 22 properties in the state to generate 500 crore.

MP Congress Committee spokesperson JP Dhanopia said, “Former chief minister Digvijaya Singh always use to think in advance and that’s why his government introduced this [scheme] 18 years ago. But I have a serious doubt on the motive of the state government of introducing the scheme as this scheme can be misused by officer, who are close to the state government.”

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