Armed forces feel let down by PM's pay commission missive
It was meant to be a New Year's gift to the armed forces and will be welcomed by nearly 12,000 officers of the rank of Lt Colonel and equivalent who will earn over Rs 8000 per month by being placed in a higher Pay Band 4.
But the January 1 letter from Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's office to the Ministry of Defence, a copy of which India Today was able to access, could raise more issues than it resolves.
For starters, all deputations have been immediately disincentivised. Over 2000 officers of the rank of Lt Colonel / Commander and Wing Commander go on deputation to the National Security Guards, DRDO, Assam Rifles, R&AW, IB, Ministry of Defence and Ordnance Factory Boards. They now stand to lose nearly Rs 13,000 in PB4 benefits when they move on deputation.
This provision does not apply to the officers currently on deputation but will apply to all appointments made after this letter becomes a government order. The PM's letter also states that only Majors and Colonels be sent on deputation - a tough task says the military because Colonels (and their equivalent Captains and Group Captains in the navy and air force) command battalions, warships and bases and hence cannot be made available for deputations.
The PM's letter effectively places another contentious issue of parity with the civilian establishment on a back-burner by recommending the setting up of yet another high-powered committee. The pay commission has already seen two high-powered committees – the committee of secretaries headed by the cabinet secretary and the Group of Ministers headed by Foreign Minister Pranab Mukherjee and including (then) Finance Minister P Chidambaram and Defence Minister A.K. Antony. "How many more high powered committees are we going to see?" asks an exasperated army officer.
It's not just unheard of words like 'ready to combat jobs' used in the letter which has puzzled the armed forces. They say the Prime Minister's letter is silent on three other issues they raised: lower grade pay than their civilian counterparts, Lt Generals being left out of Higher Administrative Grade and the cutting of pension to Persons Below Officer Rank (PBORs).
The letter, instead speaks of an unrelated demand – a separate pay commission for the armed forces – raised even before the pay commission recommendation were submitted to the government earlier this year. The move for a separate pay commission effectively hives the military away from the civilian pay commission, but only in the year 2018 when the Seventh Central Pay Commission is convened.
Letter from PMO to Ministry of Defence
Full text of the confidential letter:
Refer meeting on November 28 with the EM and RM
i) Lt Colonels in their parent service holding combat or ready to combat jobs may be placed in PB4 and may be given a grade pay of Rs 8000. Lt Colonels on deputation may be given PB4 and Grade Pay of Rs 8000 only when they return from deputation to their parent service
ii) While the dispensation in Para (i) above may apply to Lt Colonels already on deputation, in future no Lt Colonel may be sent on deputation. Only Majors and Colonels may be sent on deputation.
iii) A high powered committee may be set up to resolve command and control functions / status of armed forces officers vis-à-vis paramilitary forces and civilians
iv) In future, pay revision of armed forces may be delinked from civilians and separate board set up for the armed forces.
Source : India Today