In the fight against Covid-19 pandemic, the state governments of Andhra Pradesh, Rajasthan Maharashtra, and Odisha have deferred the salaries of CMs to top bureaucrats and other government officials.
The State government has clearly asserted that there will be no salary cuts but only temporary deferment in the payment of full salaries to all of its senior government officials, cabinet ministers, chief minister, IAS officers, and government heads to contain and manage the Coronavirus impact on the state's economy.
Salaries of CM, bureaucrats, and ministers deferred
In Rajasthan, the cabinet has decided that 30 percent salaries of the pensioners, 60 percent of the salaries of IAS officers and 50 percent of those in state services will be deferred.
In view of the economic burden faced by the government alone, Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot passed a resolution to defer 75 percent of his gross salary and of all the ministers and MLAs in his cabinet. However, Gehlot exempted class four employees, cops, healthcare workers, contract workers and doctors from such partial deferment of salaries.
This deferment was implemented considering the recent decline in the state of Rajasthan revenues by Rs 17,000 crore. He further said that his government will revise the ex gratia to the deserving from Rs 1,000 to Rs 2,500.
AP follows Rajasthan's footsteps, announces deferment
Meanwhile, the state of Andhra Pradesh reported 40 positive Covid-19 cases, while Telangana reported 97 confirmed Covid-19 patients to include six deaths, and 14 recoveries. Telangana implemented a similar move as Rajasthan to defer salaries of the state legislators including the Chief Minister, Cabinet Minister, IAS officers and other government officials.
There will be 100% deferment in salaries of Chief Minister, MLAs, Cabinet Ministers, MLC, chairperson and members of all corporations, elected representatives of all local bodies and people holding equivalent posts. A 60 percent deferment will be exercised on All India Service Officers viz., IAS, IPS and IFS; 50 percent deferment in respect of all other government employees to include persons engaged under the category of direct individuals' professions and through the third party. The order exempts Class-IV Employees.
However, 10 percent deferment will be exercised on Class-IV, contract, outsourcing and, the village and ward secretariat employees. The order issued by the Andhra Pradesh government stated, "The deferment shall be equally applicable to the serving & retired employees of all PSUs / Government aided Institutions, organizations, universities, societies, autonomous bodies and semi-autonomous bodies, etc. in respect of their Salaries/Wages/Honorarium/Pensions."
This order comes soon after the Telangana government announced salary cuts on its political representatives, executives and employees from 10 percent to 75 percent.
Odisha joins the deferment strategy to state revival
The deferment in salaries helps control the state revenue inflows, by providing some economic relief to the state government dealing with the extra burden imposed and the people affected by the Coronavirus epidemic.
According to a statement released by Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik, "There shall be a deferment of 70% in the gross salary of the chief minister, MLAs, chairpersons of all corporations and elected representatives of all local bodies." Plus there will be 50 percent deferment in the salary of All India service officers. The order will come into immediate effect, which means the government officials will get less salary for the month of March with effect from April 1, and this will continue indefinitely until further notice is issued by the State government.
A senior official on the condition of anonymity said, "The government is using the word deferment and not pay cuts because the salaries of senior government officials that get deducted now, can later be recovered from the government, once the liquidity condition of the state improves and the economy recovers from slump. However, if we use the word pay cuts, it means the deducted amount from the salaries of senior officials will never be paid."
Most of the MLAs have announced to donate three-months of their salary to the chief minister's relief fund to support the state government in its efforts to battle out the Covid-19 pandemic. Also, deferment of salaries of chairpersons of local bodies, corporations and associations will not have any impact on the state exchequer, as they do not draw their salary from their own fund instead of exchequer. Plus their pay is very less in comparison to those of other senior officials and ministers.
The chief minister, MLAs and the ministers get monthly salaries of around Rs 1 lakh, while all India officers earn around Rs.1.3 lakh per month. Officials in the state finance department indicate that more austere measures could be implemented by the State to cut unnecessary expenditures in the next few months.
Maharashtra says salaries deferred for March will be processed in two installments
The salaries of senior elected representatives, cabinet minister, chief minister and other government officials in Maharashtra will be deferred for March and processed in two installments. The state government of Maharashtra announced that from chief minister (CM) to the gram panchayat members will get 40 percent of their March salary, while government employees will be paid 50 to 75 percent of their salary in the first installment. The remaining part i.e. the second installment of the March salary will be released later, only in the next financial year.
Post-meeting with all unions representing state government bodies, cabinet ministers and deputy chief minister of Maharashtra, Ajit Pawar said, "Class A and B officers, ranging from the rank of secretaries to desk officers will get 50 percent of their March salaries, while the clerical staff in Category C will get 75 percent of their salary. There is no deduction imposed on salaries of peons and office assistants, who are Class D government employees."
"I hope that the employees and their unions will extend their whole-hearted support to the government in this unprecedented challenge we are facing," Pawar added. He has demanded the Centre to release a package of Rs 25,000 crore to help state recovery.
A circular stating the March salary of all government employees will be released in two phases was issued by chief secretary Ajoy Mehta. While the state's government steps to not exempt healthcare workers, doctors, police and other frontline workers from salary deferment has been heavily criticized by various BJP leaders. The deferred salary amount deducted will be restored by the government in the next couple of months. This deferment measure should help the state Governments adjust their bills during the closing of the financial year.