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Punjab CM’s advisers to get more salary than him, cabinet ministers

A cabinet minister gets Rs 1.1 lakh as monthly pay and allowances while advisers with minister of state rank to take home Rs 1.5 lakh and same perks; political secretaries to get Rs 1.25 lakh and same perks as chief parliamentary secretaries minus the rank

punjab Updated: Jul 22, 2017 22:48 IST
Sukhdeep Kaur
Sukhdeep Kaur
Hindustan Times, Chandigarh
BIS Chahal,Raveen Thukral,Vimal Sumbly
Raveen Thukral and BIS Chahal are among the CM’s advisers. (Photos: FB/ANI)

After bringing a white paper on the ‘legacy of debt’ left by the previous Parkash Singh Badal government and seeking a fiscal bailout from the Centre, chief minister Captain Amarinder Singh has handsomely rewarded his own retinue of advisers and political secretaries.

So much so, that the CM’s advisers with minister-of-state rank and political secretaries “with no rank” too will take home more pay than not just his nine ministers but also the CM himself.

Significantly, in 2015, the CM’s pay was doubled to Rs 1 lakh a month from Rs 50,000 and that of cabinet ministers to Rs 50,000 from Rs 30,000. The finance department has finalised the emoluments to members of the CM’s team this month.

Lt Gen TS Shergill (retd),appointed as senior adviser to CM, enjoys the rank of cabinet minister. He has been allowed to draw his last pay as lieutenant general along with perks of a minister. He gets official accommodation, vehicle, unlimited fuel for official car, office staff, personal staff and telephones. The staff includes a stenographer, private secretary and a peon.

The CM’s media adviser Raveen Thukral, adviser Bharat Inder Singh Chahal and financial adviser VK Garg enjoy the rank of minister of state that entitles them to Rs 40,000 salary, official accommodation and camp office, official car, executive class air and train journey, and phones. The staff includes a personal assistant, a driver and a peon. But they will now take home Rs 1.5 lakh, three-time the pay of a cabinet minister, along with the same perks.

The CM’s three political secretaries — Capt Sandeep Sandhu, Major Amardeep Singh Natt and Karanpal Sekhon — and press secretary Vimal Sumbly will draw Rs 1.25 lakh a month each, which is 1.5 times the pay of a cabinet minister besides entitlement to an accommodation, car, phone and staff.

Major Amardeep, who left the army in 2000, defended it, saying that his peers draw more than him now after the 7th Pay Commission recommendations were implemented. “The criterion was the last pay drawn and we are being paid according to it,” he said. Sandhu, however, said he drew a much higher pay in merchant navy, and that private and government salaries cannot be compared.

A cabinet minister gets Rs 1.1 lakh per month, including salary, telephone, staff pay, constituency and compensatory allowance. Sources in the finance department said that each adviser and political secretary, on an average, will cost the state nearly Rs 3 lakh a month, including accommodation, staff pay and allowances for telephone and fuel besides reimbursement for medical bills.

A cruel joke: SAD

The opposition Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD), which too had over a dozen advisers when in power, dubbed the salaries as a “cruel joke”.

Mahesh Inder Grewal, who was adviser to the then CM Parkash Singh Badal, questioned the logic behind such high salaries to political appointees. “The posts of advisers and political secretaries are not employment avenues for the government to pay as per prevailing inflation. They are given as recognition for work done for the party in power and not to benefit them monetarily,” Grewal said.

It is not just the opposition that is complaining. “The CM and finance minister Manpreet Badal are talking of austerity and nine cabinet berths are lying vacant. But the government is showering such largesse on political appointees,” a Congress MLA said, requesting anonymity.

First Published: Jul 22, 2017 22:19 IST