Monday, March 28, 2016
MoD for retaining higher status, pay for armed forces
Tackling irksome issues as regards the 7th Central Pay Commission (CPC), the Ministry of Defence will convey to an empowered committee headed by the Cabinet Secretary that the status, pay and allowances of the armed forces be kept above all other “fighting” arms of the government.
Sources said Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar told a high-level meeting at the MoD on March 22 that the stance of the ministry should be categorical on the issues of status, pay and allowances for the forces.
Parrikar was in agreement with key issues raised by the three service chiefs—Air Chief Marshal Arup Raha, Admiral Robin Dhowan and General Dalbir Singh Suhag.
MoD officials have been asked to prepare a formal note for the empowered committee of secretaries, led by the Cabinet Secretary, which is studying recommendations of the 7th CPC. The government is yet to announce what it has accepted or rejected. The forces cannot directly petition the empowered committee.
In all, the forces have flagged 37 issues of which eight have been termed as “key-issues”, which, if not sorted out, can have an adverse impact on the morale.
One of the issues was “wrong and misplaced” comparison with the Central armed police (paramilitary) forces—Central Reserve Police Forces (CRPF), Border Security Force (BSF), Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP), Central Industrial Security Force (CISF) and the Sashastra Seema Bal (SSB).
The services have told the MoD that there can be no comparison with the paramilitary in terms of the mandate, duties, risks in service conditions and tasks assigned. The 7th CPC will upset laid-down seniorities and place armed forces’ allowances lower than those for paramilitary forces.
The three forces—Army, Navy and Air Force—have petitioned Parrikar for the restoration of earlier status, which has been “disturbed” following recommendations of the 7th pay commission.
The disability pension for the armed forces has been lowered, but it has been maintained at same levels for paramilitary forces. Parrikar has been informed that the pay panel has disturbed parity between Lt-Colonels and Commandants of the paramilitary forces.
The issue of allowances was discussed at the meeting and the much-quoted example of how Guwahati will be a “tougher” posting than serving on the forbidding Siachen Glacier, was brought out.
The CPC has suggested Rs 31,500 per month for officers and Rs 21,000 per month for jawans as allowance to compensate them for the “hardship” faced at Siachen. However, once the pay commission’s new salary slabs come into place, the tough area allowance (TRA), which is about 33 per cent of the basic salary, in civilian services works out to be in excess of Rs 55,000 for IPS and IAS officers and Rs 30,000 for others posted in areas such as Guwahati.