Cash-strapped Bengal govt plans to re-employ retiring clerks | kolkata | Hindustan Times
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Cash-strapped Bengal govt plans to re-employ retiring clerks

Saddled with debt, the Mamata Banerjee government has decided to cut down expenditure on manpower. Instead of recruiting new clerks the state will offer fixed monthly stipend to retiring employees and let them work for four more years.

kolkata Updated: Aug 04, 2017 14:13 IST
Sumanta Ray Chaudhuri
Sumanta Ray Chaudhuri
Hindustan Times
Mamata Banerjee,Nabanna,West Bengal Economy
Nabanna, the new state secretariat near second Hooghly bridge, houses the most important departments of the Bengal government including the chief minister’s office. (Samir Jana/ HT Photo)

Huge accumulated debt and funds crunch that have become a bane for the Bengal government will soon turn into a boon for upper and lower division clerks retiring from service.

The Mamata Banerjee government is neither going to let old clerks leave, nor offer their chairs to young people looking for jobs. Rather, the state will let these aged people continue on contractual basis. Instead of regular salary they will get a fixed monthly stipend of Rs 10,000 and enjoy regular retirement benefits at the same time.

Retired clerks will be reappointed for a maximum tenure of four years. “They cannot be more than 64 years old and have to be mentally sound and physically fit. A lower or upper division clerk retiring at 60 can continue for four more years,” said a senior official of the personnel and administrative reforms department. The department, incidentally, is headed by chief minister Mamata Banerjee.

At present, the number of lower division clerks working as full-time employees is 840 and there are 833 upper division clerks. Around 400 positions are lying vacant.

For chief minister Mamata Banerjee, employment generation and cash crunch have been the biggest problems ever since she came to power in 2011. (Samir Jana/HT Photo)

Explaining the logic behind reappointing retired employees instead of employing young people, the official said: “If we recruit new people we will have to offer them salary at government scale. That involves huge expenditure.”

“By offering contractual service to a retiring clerk we will spend only a third of what we pay a clerk at the entry level. Moreover, we will have the same experienced workforce with us,” the officer added.

The total outstanding debt of West Bengal is slated to jump to Rs 3.66 lakh crore by March 31, 2018. It stood at Rs 3.06 lakh crore on March 31, 2017, officials said.

Read: Reduction in savings rates might encourage chit funds again, cautions Mamata

Considering the projected expenditure on loan repayment, salary, pension and retirement benefits in 2017-18, the government has no option but to go for contractual recruitment of retired staff, said an officer at Nabanna, the state secretariat. He admitted that most government employees are already in the upper age bracket. Only 14% clerks are aged below 30. While only 9% is aged between 31 and 40, a huge 41% is aged between 41 and 50 and 36% is in the highest age bracket: 51 - 60.

“We have so few young clerks because there has been no recruitment in six years although many retired during this period,” said an official.