Friday, December 28, 2007

A 40% hike and retire at 62?

The government is considering an increase in the retirement age of government employees to 62 years from 60. The proposal, that would benefit a large number of central and state government employees, is being looked into by the Sixth Pay Commission.

Some senior bureaucrats have already given presentations to the commission, explaining how a hike in retirement age would help the government in postponing its pension liabilities by two years. If the proposal goes through, an announcement in this regard can be expected in the Budget, sources said.

A number of ministries had written to the department of personnel and training (DoPT) about increasing the retirement age for select categories. DoPT forwarded the proposals to the ministry of finance, which in turn asked the Sixth Pay Commission to look into it.

The commission asked top bureaucrats to make presentations. It is understood that some state governments are in support of increase in retirement age. If the Centre decides to go ahead with the proposal, various state governments will also have to follow suit.

The Sixth Pay Commission's recommendations are expected to result in a hike of about 40% in salaries of central government employees in various categories.

Sources said if the government decides to implement the Sixth Pay Commission's recommendations, the outgo on the pension would be substantially higher, putting pressure on the fiscal situation. Raising the age would, however, help the government in postponing this liability by two years.

The government had last raised the retirement age in 1998 to 60 from 58 years. In the current fiscal, the total outgo on account of pay and allowances for the government with an employee strength of over 3 lakh has been pegged at Rs 46,379 crore. - The Economic Times

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

CPM starts campaign : Asks Govt. to implement sixth pay commission

The CPM on Tuesday said it was closely watching the performance of the UPA government and will continue to guide the government to pursue policies keeping in mind the interest of common man.

The CPM has asked the government to implement sixth pay commission.

Speaking at a Jan Vikalp Rally organised by the state unit of CPM here on Tuesday, senior leader Sitaram Yechury said the party was forcing UPA government to adopt polices which are in the interest of the common people.

He said the CPM prevailed upon the Union government not to implement policies of retrenchment and privatisation.

Yechury claimed that UPA government can not function without the support of Left parties.

Criticising the BJP, Yechury described it as a communal party. He said BJP was dividing people on the basis of religion and caste for gaining political power.

Speaking on the occasion senior party leader Nilotapal Basu said farmers are facing great hardship because they are not getting remunerative prices of their produce.

He said majority of the farmers are under debt and hundreds of farmers had committed suicide. He said economic disparities have increased to a great extent due to the wrong economic policies of Congress and BJP government, adopted under pressure of World Trade Organisation.

Inderjeet Singh, State Secretary of CPM, said that the people of Haryana are facing heavy shortage of electricity.

Earlier workers of Ram Setu Raksha Manch opposed the rally of CPM. The police resorted to mild lathi charge in order to disperse them in which four workers received minor injuries.

The police took about 70 workers in custody and detained them at the local police station. Later they were released.

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Congress may be forced to announce sops

The Gujarat battle has come to an end with the congress in a pathetic condition. Everybody is looking forward towards the next lok sabha elections. Its quite obvious that the UPA - Left will not make a mistake by calling for an early election. The government is expected to announce more sops to satisfy the masses. And the sixth pay commission report may be one such medium. It can also be noted one of the agenda that the BJP fought on Gujarat is the development issue. If the congress also want to project its development achievements, the results of those has top be passed on to the sections on the society.

Logically thinking a beneficial report is expected from panel. There are talks that a pay hike of 40-45% can be expected. Also the government has indicated that it does want to retain efficient employees - of course through better packages. The report is expected to be out by March end.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

BMS rally in Delhi for interim relief

More than 5,000, Bharatiya Mazdoor Sangh (BMS) workers representing railways, defence, postal, central secretariat, armed forces headquarters, IMD, audit and accounts, currency and coins, etc., under the banner of Government Employees National Federation (GENC) staged massive protest at the Parliament Street in New Delhi on December 11. They were demanding immediate interim relief and publication of the Sixth Pay Commission report with a grant of Rs 10,000 minimum wage per month, scrapping of new pension scheme, stopping of privatisation, lifting ban on recruitment, 100 per cent recruitment on compensate ground to the wards of affected government employees died in service and stopping of outsourcing. They said the recommendations of the Pay Commission should also equally be made applicable to the state government employees and the employees of autonomous bodies. The constitution of a new ministry was also demanded at the central level to look after the functioning and welfare of the employees.

Later, a delegation of the confederation led by the BMS president Shri Girish Awasthi submitted a memorandum to the Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh for grant of interim relief at 15 per cent of the basic pay plus DA subject to Rs 1,000 per month and early publication of the Pay Commission report with effect from January 1, 2006.

It was the sixth demonstration by the unions affiliated to the BMS since the beginning of this session of the Parliament. The first demonstration was staged on November 21 followed by subsequent demonstrations on November 27, 29, 30 and December 4. More than 8,000 workers attended the demonstration on December 4. The BMS general secretary Shri Udairao Patwardhan addressed most of these demonstrations and demanded scraping of the SEZ act and ban on the entry of big business giants in retail trade.

Addressing the demonstrators on December 11, Shri Girish Awasthi, set the deadline of April 2008 and said thereafter the BMS workers would gherao the Prime Minister and all the Ministers of the UPA government. He said despite lapse of more than one and a half years period neither the Pay Commission report has come nor the recommendations for grant of interim relief has been given by the Pay Commission.

The BMS national secretary, Shri Baijnath Rai strongly deplored the apathy of the UPA government towards the economically backward section of the society and the aam aadmi, who are facing difficult days due to unprecedented increase in prices of essential commodities. Shri D.M. Rao Dev, president of the GENC criticised the government for its anti-worker moves like investment of pension fund in private market and green signal to engagement of employees through outsourcing without any social security. The GENC general secretary, Shri P.S. Bisht warned the government that if it does not give up its anti-employees move, the confederation would launch a nationwide agitation.

The demonstrators were also addressed by the BPMS president, Shri Sanjay Safai; the BRMS general secretary, Shri Swayambhu Singh; BPEF general secretary, Shri Vidhyadhar Pathak; Currency and Coins Karmachari Mahasangh president, Shri B.K. Jaggi; the RRKS president, Shri Mahendra Jain and the BSKS general secretary, Shri Ramlubhaya Baba.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Gujarat over and now?

For the political parties, the show on the Gujarat battlefield is over and now it time to capture the hearts of the people before the parliment election which may happen in a short time. One of the main thing that the current government will lookforward is the sixth pay commission report which is going to effect 10 million central and state government employees, besides those in the defence services. And with early trend of the Gujarat going away from the congress, it is expected that the central government will leave no thought in providing better packages to the staff. This has been already told by Union Minister for Urban Development Ajay Maken. He told "The Sixth Pay Commission report will be good for the employees. We do not want efficient employees to leave government services to join the private sector,"

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Sixth Pay panel report will be good for employees: Union Minister Maken

The Centre on Sunday promised that the sixth pay commission report would be "good" for the employees as government is keen to provide comprehensive salary packages to attract quality human resource.

"The Sixth Pay Commission report will be good for the employees. We do not want efficient employees to leave government services to join the private sector," Union Minister for Urban Development (State) Ajay Maken said.

Maken said both Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Finance Minister P Chidambaram want to provide "comprehensive and good salary packages" to employees as for good governance efficiency of the employees is paramount. He said the report would be ready by March 31 next year.

Friday, December 14, 2007

Sixth Pay Commission in Gujarat Election campaign

To exploit the dissatisfaction in a section of the government employees against the present administration, the Congress, in another advertisement, “reminded” them about the administration running as a “one-man show, treating the employees as slaves, misusing the government employees for useless programmes and functions for personal publicity, misappropriation of public funds,” and other “misbehaviour” of the Modi administration.

It promised “justice” and restoration of their “self-respect” and implementation of the recommendations of the Sixth Pay Commission at the earliest.

Friday, December 7, 2007

Now, working for a PSU means you can tell your boss off

Mumbai: Some days, Ashok Sinha spends up to four hours reviewing what employees think of him. In September, the chairman and managing director of Bharat Petroleum Corp. Ltd (BPCL) and senior managers took two weekends to review staff performance and decide on rewards and new roles.
Retaining talent: Executives of BPCL at a training session. Oil PSUs are trying to hold back employees with higher pay and promises of overseas travel, more training, growth opportunities and job rotations.
“If I don’t do this, I probably won’t have a team left,” says Sinha.
BPCL, the country’s second largest public sector refinery, has become proactive in applying new personnel management tools to engage employees. The firm is facing one of the highest attrition rates in the Indian oil industry, although officials declined to say how bad it’s gotten. “Let me just say it has doubled over the last two years,” says S.A. Narayanan, human resources director.
With the entire industry troubled by rising attrition rates among senior staff and specialists such as geo-scientists and refinery engineers, public sector oil companies are radically changing their human resources practices to retain people: increasing pay, adding new feedback mechanisms and enticing staff with the promise of overseas travel, more training and job rotations.
The oil public sector undertakings (PSUs) have been losing people not only to private sector exploration and refining companies such as Reliance Industries Ltd and Essar Oil Ltd, but also to foreign recruiters and global consulting firms. Narayanan, for example, pointed out that many of his non-technical staff have gone to consulting firms such as Ernst & Young.
A study by consulting firm Hewitt Associates, commissioned by PSU oil companies, found executives at PSUs typically earn 60-100% less than their private sector counterparts. For middle management, the average fixed pay of Rs9.44 lakh annually compared relatively favourably with the market median of Rs10.11 lakh. But for senior management, the average pay is Rs14.34 lakh, about 82% lower than that of the overall market. At the director level, the fixed pay is Rs17.87 lakh, 81% lower than the market rate, says the Hewitt study.
These numbers are despite revenue per employee at public sector oil companies rising significantly. Revenue per employee at the country’s largest oil exploration company, Oil and Natural Gas Corp. Ltd (ONGC), for instance, has gone up from Rs36.4 lakh in 1997-98 to Rs1.6 crore in 2005-06.
“Unless we hike salaries significantly from mid-management onwards, nothing will change and people will keep leaving us for better pay packs,” says A.K. Balyan, human resources director, ONGC.
ONGC is another company that has been hit by high levels of attrition. The company has lost more than 100 key personnel such as geo-scientists and technicians who work on oil rigs.
So, ONGC is revising its policy to recruit former employees. “We are taking back geo-scientists who left us or retired as consultants,” says Balyan. The re-recruitment process is expected to be complete by the end of the year. Around 60 former employees may rejoin the firm. Balyan says the pay packages are likely to be substantially higher as they will join as consultants.
Earlier this year, while making presentations to the Sixth Pay Commission, the body that reviews public sector salaries, state-owned oil companies made a strong case for not only higher pay but also incentives such as variable pay and stock options.
To improve efficiency and accountability of government employees, the Sixth Pay Commission has asked Indian Institute of Management, Ahmedabad, to conduct a study on performance-related pay in PSUs. The government is also said to be mulling a similar model for public sector banks, which may be asked to offer incentives in proportion to profits or revenue.
Besides pay, human resources managers say they are trying to promote growth opportunities at PSUs because of their size and scale.
“For instance, PSUs can offer exposure to the overseas markets where they operate, rotation across functions, management and leadership training, work-life balance with better work hours,” says Subash Masters, head of government services at Hewitt Associates.
The country’s biggest oil refiner, Indian Oil Corp. Ltd, says it isn’t too worried by attrition. Human resources director V.C. Aggrawal says the company lost 165 engineers and chartered accountants last year—about 1.5% of its staff.
“Many of these are people who leave in the first couple of years of employment, so there is no way to assess what they may have contributed to the company in any case,” he adds.
The key is to identify and nurture high performers, says Ajay Soni, business leader at Hewitt. “With the opening of the economy, private players would obviously look at competent people in PSUs.”
BPCL has embarked on what it calls a “360-degree” feedback from employees—feedback from supervisors, subordinates, peers, stakeholders—which empowers them to also evaluate seniors while hearing from the company what future possibilities might be. “The feedback gave an insight into what could be in store for me in the company,” says Raju Natekar, deputy general manager of finance at BPCL. “It also gave me tools which would help me move that direction.”

source : livemint`

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

The Finance Commission (FC) & the Sixth Pay Commission

Comparing the Finance Commission (FC) with the Pay Commission is a bit like comparing an accountant with a movie star. They’re just not in the same league. The Pay Commission hands out goodies by the bagful to a large and vocal section of the population. The Finance Commission, in contrast, does the more prosaic job of, among other things, picking up the pieces after the Pay Commission has done the damage!

Even so, when the appointment of the Thirteenth Finance Commission evokes so little interest, even among financial dailies, it can mean only two things. One, the mandate of the Commission, to determine the sharing of tax revenues between the Centre and the states and between states, is seen as a largely settled issue, now that we’ve had twelve FCs and the broad contours of the sharing process have been laid down.

Two, buoyant tax revenues, both at the Centre and the states have taken the edge off what has traditionally been a highly contentious issue. Add to this the preoccupation with other issues such as the possible fallout of the subprime crisis on capital flows, Nandigram, the nuclear deal and so on and it is no wonder esoteric fiscal issues involving ‘vertical’ equity (between Centre and states) and ‘horizontal equity’(between states) have been relegated to the backburner.

There is, of course, a third, admittedly facile, explanation. This is the Thirteenth Finance Commission and in one of those uncanny quirks of fate, was also notified on 13 November 2007; hence the silence! On a more serious vein, the Thirteenth Finance Commission has some notable firsts to its credit.

It is the first time in history that the chairman and all members, with the exception of B K Chaturvedi, a retired bureaucrat, are economists (though whether that is a plus is debatable). It is also the first time that we have a woman member, Indira Rajaraman, Professor Emeritus at the capital’s National Institute of Public Finance and Policy.

But if the Commission is not to go down as just another ‘formula tweaker’ it will have to do more. It will have to deliver on its ambitious terms of reference (TOR). Its task has been made more difficult by two developments that will inexorably shape the fisc during the five years commencing 2010 — one, the Sixth Pay Commission recommendations and two, the Goods and Services Tax (GST), slated to come into effect from April 2010.

The first, the Pay Commission report, is a ‘known unknown’, in the sense that though there is no doubt it will hit Centre and state finances hard, the precise impact is a little harder to work out. This is because its recommendations usually have a ripple effect and the full impact will be known only after a while. The second, GST, however, is an ‘unknown unknown’. It is far from clear if the country will be ready to implement GST from April 2010 (remember, it was almost two decades before VAT became a reality).

The impact of GST on central and state revenues is also unclear. Yes, we know now that GST will have a dual structure (where tax is levied by the Centre and the states) but the actual rates are yet to be decided; consensus is unlikely to be easy but the final model will need states’ approval.

Sunday, December 2, 2007

Antony reitrates persuance of better deal for defence personals

"The last Pay Commission has not done justice to the armed forces personnel. We are now trying to get a better deal from the Sixth Pay Commission," defence minister A.K. Antony who is visiting border areas of Sikkim told.

Asked about reports of alleged removal of a Buddha statute in the Tawang sector in Arunachal Pradesh, he said though such an incident indeed had taken place, there was no evidence that China had done it.