Friday, May 2, 2008

Jawans set to get a hike beyond Pay panel advice

In the face of mounting pressure from the Armed Forces, the Defence Ministry has asked the Committee of Secretaries looking into the Pay Commission recommendations to double the Military Service Pay (MSP) for soldiers from Rs 1000 to Rs 2000. The MSP will be merged with basic salary and form the basis on which other allowances will be calculated.

With Defence Minister A K Antony putting his weight behind the move, sources said, the suggestion is likely to be accepted as informal consultations have already happened among relevant officials. The issue will be elaborately discussed and firmed up when the three service chiefs meet Cabinet Secretary K M Chandrashekhar, who heads the CoS, over lunch on May 5.

While the Armed Forces were keen to treble the amount for certain categories among personnel below officer rank (PBOR), sources said, the hike in MSP along with other allowances will make up for a "healthy" salary. Moreover, the CoS will submit the report to the Cabinet which can consider further review in case finances permit.

The pay panel, it may be recalled, had suggested MSP of Rs 1000 for PBORs — there are 13 lakh PBORs — and Rs 6000 for officers up to the rank of Brigadier. Sources said there will be no revision in the MSP recommendation for officers even though the Armed Forces are keen on extending MSP to officers beyond the rank of Brigadier.

However, some of the other demands related to pay parity among senior officers and their counterparts in the civil is likely to get a favourable view. The pay panel recommendations have caused a strong protest from within and among the Armed Forces. Former Army Chief Gen N C Vij, who now heads the National Disaster Management Authority, even wrote to the Prime Minister expressing anguish and making demands for revising the suggestions.

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