Many of the five million government employees are yet to receive the retroactive portion of a salary hike that came into effect from January 2006 after the Union government implemented the Sixth Pay Commission's recommendations.
The employees started getting a new salary from 1 September, but the delay in clearing the so-called arrears is causing some angst among employees, many of whom live in states where elections are being held now.
The Congress party-led United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government announced an average increase of 21% in the salaries of government employees in August. But only the employees of Union ministries have received their payouts so far.
The government had planned to disburse 40% of the Rs29,373 crore as arrears during 2008-09 and the remaining 60% in 2009-10.
"The arrears have been received by the employees working in the Union ministries and the main (Central) secretariat. However, the employees working in field offices and attached organizations or offices of the ministries are yet to get the arrears. There were no such problems at the time of arrear payments for the Fifth Pay Commission," said an official in the Union ministry of information and broadcasting, who didn't want to be named.
"While the ministries employ less than 10% of the workforce, the balance work with these offices. The pay and account offices of these organizations have been demanding money for the payments."
"Most of the subordinate bodies in the ministries are yet to receive it," said another government official, asking not to be named.
Senior officials in the ministries of power, petroleum and natural gas, shipping and road transport, and highways confirmed that the arrears have been received by their personnel.
"There have been some incidents of Central government employees posted in the states not getting the arrears payment. I think employees who have not received their money even now should protest," says M.K. Pandhe, a politburo member of the Communist Party of India (Marxist). Such incidents have been sporadic and "there have been no large-scale instances of employees not having been paid arrears", he added.
"The orders for the arrears payment has been passed in keeping with the recommendations cleared by the Union cabinet. From our end, everything has been done. If there is a problem, it could be a minor bureaucratic problem at the execution level," said a senior finance ministry official, who didn't want to be named.
While the wage hike has increased the financial burden of the government by Rs17,798 crore annually, it has also increased the rate of annual increment from 2.5% to 3%.
The government has also raised the minimum entry-level salary of a government employee to Rs7,000 against Rs6,660 recommended by the commission, headed by justice B.N. Srikrishna, which submitted the report in March.
Drawing and disbursing officers prepare the bills and pass it on to pay and account officers, who then process the payment and record it on a computer software created for the purpose, called Compact. While the Controller General of Accounts is of the opinion that the computerized process cuts down delays, there are still some allegations that there is potential for graft at the pay and account offices stage.