Unified pay scales for public sector employees before Eid-ul-Azha
(News Report Published in TheNews Lahore)
Islamabad (Wednesday, October 17, 2012) – Pay committee led by Dr Ishrat Husain will finalise revised pay scales 2012 for public sector employees by merging existing ad hoc allowances before the upcoming Eidul Azha, according to sources on Tuesday.
The committee will hold two meetings before the upcoming Eid to finalise its report and the first meeting is scheduled to be held on Friday (October 19), while the second and final meeting is expected to be held next week before furnishing its report on the table of Prime Minister Raja Pervez Ashraf.
According to sources in the Regulation Wing of the Finance Division, the revised pay scales 2012 would be finalised by merging the existing allowances. One special performance allowance will be granted to adjust those organisations and institutions where the employees are getting double salaries such as Army, the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) and others. With the revised pay scales 2012, the committee would recommend freezing of pension at the existing level in order to avoid ballooning of the pension bill. But some sources say that the decision to grant 10-20 percent benefits to those employees could be granted who are going to be retired after placing revised pay scales 2012 but it will be done keeping in view the resources positions.
According to the working of the committee, there are huge distortions in the existing pay structure of the public sector employees as there are certain departments and institutions where hefty pay and packages are offered to them such as in the FBR the employees are availing 150 percent of the basic pay 2011 and some organisations such as the Intelligence Bureau (IB), Federal Investigation Agency (FIA), Motorway Police, Army, Health Department and some others are getting 90 percent of the basic pay 2011. The employees of the remaining public sector are getting just 60 percent ad hoc allowances in accordance with the pay scale 2011, it said.
According to last Pay and Pension Committee report, which was not officially released by the government revealed that the government’s attempts to ameliorate the situation from time-to-time by granting ad hoc relief allowances have, in fact, resulted in some distortions.
Since formally these allowances are not counted as pay rather they are specific allowances they are discretionary in nature and reversible in theory, the report said.
The government has incurred huge expenditures on these allowances, the signaling effect on the potential new employees of these allowances is quite low since these allowances do not form part of the pay scale, are opaque and carry the risk of discretionary reversal.
There have been five such efforts at relief during the last decade. The first was in the financial year 1999, whereby support staff (BS 1-16) was given an allowance of 25 percent of the minimum of the 1994 pay scales and senior personnel (BS 17-22) were given 20 percent of the minimum.
The second relief was in 2003, with 15 percent for all based on the basic pay of 2001; the third in 2004, once again 15 percent for all based on the basic pay of 2001; the fourth in 2006, 15 percent for all based on the basic pay of 2005; and one in 2009, based on the basic pay of 2008, with 20 percent for BS 1-16 and 15 percent for BS 17-22, the report revealed.
Other than these ad hoc relief allowances, the report revealed that there are a multitude of other allowances. For example in the federal government there are 135 possible allowances that are in operation currently, and these range from house rent allowance and conveyance allowance to design allowance and performance evaluation allowance.
The provincial governments, the pay and pension committee report said, have added to this list, depending on the circumstances and needs that arise from time-to-time.
Like the ad hoc measures at providing relief to the civil servants, most of these allowances have also been used to incentivise the personnel in short supply or possessing high skill content. However, the decisions to grant these allowances have been taken in isolation of the structure, as well as performance standards to be met and added to the distortions.
These decisions have, in fact, spiraled demands for similar allowances by other groups who do not deserve such incentives either for scarcity premium or skill intensity, the report added.