Guwahati, Monday, January 18, 2010
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EDITORIAL

MESSAGE FOR TODAY
Work is accomplished by those employees who have not yet reached their level of incompetence.
— LAURENCE J PETER

Employees’ agitation
The nagging problem of pay revision of the employees of the Government of Assam (GOA) has now reached such a stage that both parties are almost on war path. The employees want GOA to agree fully to their demands while GOA has made it clear that if the employees go on strike or other agitations their leaders would face dismissal from service. The employees’ associations’ major demands include complete pay parity with Central Government employees, rates of increments not to be tied to performance, higher rates of house rent, medical and conveyance allowances and date of effect from January 1, 2006. Earlier, in the hope of retaining a vote bank the Chief Minister had been pampering the employees so much that he forgot to take his own Government’s financial resources into consideration before promising at least one rupee more than the Central scales of pay. He was not probably advised that from April 1, 2010 it would be the Thirteenth Central Finance Commission’s recommendations which will determine how much and under which heads GOA will get devolution and grants-in-aid from the Central Government during the next five years (2010-15). That Commission submitted its Report to the President of India on December 30, 2009. It is now under examination of the Central Government. The final allocations will be known probably in February, 2010. GOA has to await the outcome because by no stretch of imagination GOA can dream of meeting the increased requirements of funds for pay revision from out of its own resources. GOA has also to take note of the fact that it cannot afford to go back to the situation during the 1990s when Government Treasuries were closed for 27/28 days in each month and many employees were not getting salaries for months together. That would be disastrous for the party in power because the General Elections are due in 2011. Moreover, GOA is bound by the Fiscal Reform and Budget Management Act, 2003. It has to think about FRBMA’s penal provisions before committing excess expenditure. The Chief Minister must have realised all this because he has now stopped his unnecessary pampering of the employees and instead warned them of severe consequences if they disrupt the functioning of Government.

Sensible and apolitical sections of civil society have felt outraged at the atrocious demands of the employees and particularly so in the context of the work culture that they follow. Government officials come late, play truant during office hours and waste Government time on personal business. Even some senior officers follow similar practice. GOA has to spend nearly Rs 3 lakh per month on each of its top officials’ central scales of pay, allowances including those on housing, cars, servants, children education and special duty allowance (for condescending to work in the North East) as well as pensionary contributions, leave travel concessions and retention of additional accommodation in New Delhi besides other perks. Some of these officers are known to be taking advantage of Tarun Gogoi’s good nature and spending more time in New Delhi with their families at GOA’s expenses and neglecting their allotted duties. They seem to be performing only routine duties while a few of their own colleagues have to work much harder. They are not assisting Tarun Gogoi in his role as a pioneer of good governance and as a growth agent. Now that the Chief Minister has realised his earlier mistake and seems to be determined to put down any agitation by the employees let him also enforce work culture amongst the employees and discipline the top bureaucrats as well.