Pakistan military seeks nearly Rs 64 bn for salary hike of personnel
Islamabad: Pakistan’s military has sought an additional outlay of Rs 63.69 billion to cover a 20% increase in the salaries of the personnel of the army, navy and air force amid cost-cutting and austerity measures by the civilian government.
A memorandum submitted to the finance division by the defence ministry on May 8 stated the increase in salaries during fiscal 2020-21 is needed because of various factors that have “affected the fiscal space and livelihood of armed forces personnel”.
The memorandum further stated that the joint staff headquarters, in consultation with the headquarters of the three services, believes government employees, including military personnel, have been hit by a price rise due to the devaluation of the Pakistani rupee, increase in utility bills and inflation.
It added that in the current fiscal, the salary of officers up to the rank of brigadier had been increased by 5%, junior commissioned officers and soldiers were given ad hoc relief of 10% of their basic pay.
However, it states, no increase was given to general officers, while the ad hoc relief granted to officers had been marginalised by enhanced income tax, thereby resulting in their salary decreasing.
As these circumstances have affected the “fiscal space and livelihood” of armed forces personnel, the move to increase the pay, “duly approved” by the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee, had been forwarded to the finance ministry.
The memorandum stated this can be accomplished by merging the ad hoc relief allowances for 2016-19 in the basic pay designated in 2017. “Thereafter, allowing increase in pay @ 20% of revised pay scales in budget [for] financial year 2020-21,” it added.
Last year, Pakistan’s military “voluntarily agreed” to cut expenses due to the “critical financial situation” facing the country, and skipped a routine increase in the defence budget. This did not include pensions for retired soldiers, which is covered by the federal government to the tune of Rs 260 billion.
In June last year, the government announced a defence budget of Rs 1.15 trillion ($7.6 billion) for fiscal 2019-20, an increase of 1.3% over the revised military expenditure for 2018-19. The defence budget amounted to almost 16% of total government expenditure for the year and about 3% of GDP.