Debt-ridden govt facing Rs 3000 crore additional financial burden
Shimla | TNR
Pressure is increasing on the debt-ridden Himachal Pradesh government to announce the date for payment of the arrears of the sixth pay scale for government employees and pensioners.
Arrears are pending since January 2016 and neighbouring Punjab government’s decision to announce the date on March 8 for payment of arrears has put the Himachal government in a fix.
Over 1.81 lakh employees and 1.50 lakh pensioners would be benefitted.
Financial burden to increase
The Himachal Pradesh government would have to shell out more than Rs 3000 crore for payment of arrears. The government is currently under a debt of Rs 60,500 crore. However, with assembly elections due in 2022 last quarter the government cannot afford to make employees and pensioners angry.
Punjab government, which would also be holding assembly elections next year, has not wasted time in announcing the date and made provisions in the budget to the tune of Rs 9000 crore to keep employees and pensioners in a good mood.
For the Himachal government, the problem is that it would have to take more loans to pay interest on the debt that it has amassed.
Interim relief lessens burden
Those in the know of government finances said that the state government has paid two installments as interim relief. Virbhadra Singh’s government had paid 12 percent as interim relief and the current Jai Ram Thakur government has paid 9 percent interim relief. To put it simply if there is a 30 percent increase in an employee’s salary then only 9 percent would be considered as pending payment because 21 percent interim relief has already been paid.
Committee constituted by government
A committee of senior government officials has been constituted for the time being to assess how much financial burden the government would have to bear.
Himachal to follow in Punjab’s footsteps
Chief Minister Jai Ram Thakur has already declared in his budget speech that as soon as the Punjab government declares payment of the sixth pay scale the Himachal government would follow suit. He has assured employees that the announcement would be made soon.
Employees, pensioners should get new pay scale earliest
Himachal Pradesh State Teachers Union state president Virendra Chauhan said that with the Punjab government announcing the implementation of the sixth pay scale the Himachal Pradesh government should not dilly-dally. The Himachal government should have budgetary provision for payment of arrears, he added.