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Sunday, October 14, 2007

Sixth Pay Commission to recommend hire on contract

A report that came in Asian Age on 13th October 2007 on the 6th CPC

New Delhi, Oct.12: The Sixth Pay Commission headed by Justice B.N.Srikrishna (Retd) plans to recommend to the government that it hire bureaucrats in future on a contract basis in order to increase the efficiency of the administration.

The commission, whose recommendations are, however, not binding on the government, is expected to submit them formally by March or April next year.

Justice Srikrishna, when asked if he was advocating a "hire-and-fire" policy for senior government officials, said: "Why not? If you want to end the security of tenure, then such an alternative (contractual approach) needs to be examined. It is a logical corollary that needs to be looked at."

Justice Srikrishna said there was a "dire need" to develop "a sprit of competitiveness in governance in order to end the prevailing 'mai baap' attitude." In a no-holds-barred interview to this newspaper, he added: "We believe a bureaucrat's salary must be related to his performance. If he performs well, he must be rewarded; if not, he should be taken to task. As the Indian Navy says, 'Shape Up or Ship Out'. We are at present working out the parameters of how such a policy can be implemented."

The Pay Commission chairman said there was need for a complete overhaul of the entire administrative system. "We are studying the whole issue of the extent to which excessive security of tenure has affected government servants at all levels. The Administrative Reforms Commission has also looked into this at considerable length. When departmental action has to be taken against a bureaucrat, the matter will drag on interminably for years and years."

"The question to be asked is: why does a private company provide results, whereas this is not the case with the government? We keep talking about making India a superpower with growth rates exceeding nine percent. To bring this about, every aspect of the nation needs to gear up to achieve these results. We cannot have a BMW engine attached to a khattara gadi. I am an optimist. Yeh kyoon nahi ho sakta hai?" He said he was not suggesting that all government employees be hired on a contract basis: this was only for officials at a senior level. "I am not suggesting that all government jobs be made contractual. All I am emphasising is that jobs up to a certain level must remain contractual," Justice Srikrishna said. "This will help translate into more discipline, more conscientiousness and extreme accountability from government employees. The employee must be able to account for every rupee that the government spends. The public is fed up of government servants being paid more and more for non-performance," he said. Justice Srikrishna denied that government pay scales were going to be put at par with private sector salaries. He said: "Boys coming out of school are getting salaries of over Rs 1 lakh per month and more. We have to look into this whole issue to see how much parity we can achieve." He also denied that there were plans to give government secretaries annual pay packages of over Rs 1 crore and more. "I don't think too much credence should be given to rumours. All sections are demanding substantial increases in salaries." He said: "We have to keep in mind the financial implications of our recommendations. There is no point in our recommending an increase of Rs 50 when all that the finance ministry can afford is Rs 10."

Justice Srikrishna agreed that an increase in salaries at the Centre was bound to have a ripple effect on state governments as well. "The exact proportion (of the increase) would vary from state to state. But it must be remembered that our recommendations are not binding on the states, in fact they are not binding on the Central Government-it is within their discretion to accept or reject" he said.

If government employees have contract jobs, how will they be entitled to pension benefits? Justice Srikrishna said: "Persons on contract would be entitled to a higher compensation package and not pension for the contractual period. Those employes prior to 1.1.2004 would continue to get pensions, while those employes prior to 1.1.2004 would continue to get pensions, while those employes on or after 1.1.2004 would be governed by the New Pension Scheme".

Justice Srikrishna said he did not want the Sixth Pay Commission to become one more ritualistic exercise to dole out more money to government employees, particularly since a huge chunk of government revenues were being spent on salaries.

"It is regrettable that what is being spent is being inefficiently utilized. Leakages must be stopped at all cost. If the citizen gets every rupee's worth, then we are working towards having an ideal government," he said.