CM defends 5th Pay Committee recommendations in Question Hour

Gangtok, 11 Jul:

During the question hour of the Assembly Session today, member of the house, KungaNimaLepcha,raised a question on the rationale for accepting the recommendation of the 5th Pay Committee for the National Fixation of Pay from 01.01.2016 but the arrears to be paid from January 01, 2017.

In response, Chief Minister PawanChamling, who is also the Minister-in-Charge for Department of Personnel and Administrative Reforms and Training, stated that a duly constituted Pay Committee consisting of very well experienced and senior most officers has made the recommendation to that effect after examining all the factors covered by its Terms of Reference as well as recommendations of many other similarly placed states.

He added that the Committee has made such a recommendation taking into consideration the requirement of economic development of the entire State population on the one hand and ensuring that the employees would not lose out on their pay in the long run, especially at the time of the retirement.

On another question of MrLepcha on how the government proposes to compensate fifty thousand odd government employees the loss of one year pay revision arrears, the CM responded that the question of loss due to unilateral decision does not arise as it is the prerogative of any government to accept the recommendation of the independent Commissions/Committees in the overall interest of the state.

He added that it must be understood that, unlike in cases of many other states, employees pay is not going to be affected in the long run as they will get the benefits of raised pay from 01.01.2016 although arrears would only be payable from 01.01.2017.

Responding to another query of MrLepcha on the grounds for substantial percentage reduction of HRA from 15% to 12%, SBA from 10%to 8% when price index has skyrocketed over a time, the CM stated that reduction in the rates of allowance was only ‘small’ and not substantial. He explained that with the neutralization of DA as on 01.01.2016, the basic pay of the employees was going to be more than double and payment of allowances at the same rate would be disproportionate.

“This is, therefore, not ‘reduction’ but rationalization of the rates of allowances which is, by and large, based on the formula recommendation by the 7th Central Pay Commission and adopted by the Central Government. Even at the rationalized rates, the allowance is going to increase, in an average, by 2.056 times,” he added.

On the question on the logic of paying arrears on installment basis, the CM responded that the government has accepted that the recommendation for payment of arrears of pay in three installments is in the best interest of the State’s overall developmental needs and to ensure efficient fiscal arrangement.

He added that even other financially well off States pay their arrears in installments as per availability of resources in their hands or else it would negatively affect their economy and would put undue constraints on their finances to meet the aspirations and requirement of the entire State’s population for development and other welfare measures.

On the query of KungaNimaLepcha on the recent statement of the CM about the 3033% increase in per capita income of the State in past two decades and which sectors have been the contributors towards Gross State Domestic Product rate, the CM, who is also the Minister-in-Charge of Finance, Revenue and Expenditure Department, stated that in Sikkim, the manufacturing and power sectors are the two major contributors to the growth of Gross State Domestic Product [GDPS].

“The commissioning of the hydro power projects, setting up of industries particularly the Pharmaceutical industries has contributed to the increase in the growth of GSDP and per capita income. A significant part of GSDP growth is also contributed by sectors like Banking, Construction, Communication and Public Administration,” he added.

Responding to queries of the Member, RN Chamling, Minister for Human Resource Development Department, RB Subba informed that three government colleges, Sikkim Government College Gyalshing, West Sikkim, Government Vocational College, Dentam, West Sikkim and Government Arts College, Mangshila, North Sikkim were being run from rented/hired premises.

He informed that the Government College, Gyalshing has been shifted to its permanent campus in Aarigaon in the month of June and it will be functional from the new campus from the new academic session of July 2018.

The HRDD Minister mentioned that fund amounting to Rs 12 crore has been sanctioned under the component of Model Degree College under RUSA for Arts College, Mangshila and fund amounting to Rs 26 crore has also been sanctioned under the Component-New College [Professional] for Government Vocational College, Dentam and that the Department will initiate the tender process for construction of the two colleges very soon.

On the question of the area of Nar BahadurBhandari Degree College, Tadong, the Minister said that the land has a total area of 22.10 acres and land was acquired during 1980 for the establishment of the college and as per records, the land was in the name of Human Resource Development Department.

During the zero hour, Member, KN Lepcha, queried about the Stairway to Heaven Project at Daramdin in West Sikkim.

In his reply, Minister for Building and Housing Department, DT Lepcha, mentioned that the tender was floated for a small project during 2003-04 but since the project had historical and cultural significance it was suggested that a larger project be planned.

He added that accordingly consultants were appointed and retender was carried out but due to inferior works the contractor was blacklisted. He mentioned that now retender has again been carried out and work is to be completed by the stipulated time of August 2019.