US defense secretary to return part of his salary



Washington: US Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel will return part of his salary in solidarity with those civilian employees of the Defense Department who must take pay cuts in the form of unpaid leave, Pentagon spokesman George Little said.

Hagel will return as much as 14 percent of his salary via a legal mechanism to return money to the Treasury Department, even thought he is not subject to the pay cuts, Little said Tuesday.

As defense chief, Hagel earns an annual salary of about $200,000, according to the daily Politico.

The Pentagon this month will begin forcing certain employees to take unpaid furloughs due to the mandatory budget cuts that entered into force March 1 after Congress and the White House were unable to reach an agreement to reduce the budget deficit in an orderly way.

The majority of the department's 800,000 civilian employees will be affected by the measure that will force them to take furloughs of up to 14 days - although initially that period had been calculated to be 22 days - which may be staggered or alternated and for which they will not receive any pay.

Little said that military authorities are reviewing the situation to determine how many civilian employees will be subject to these measures in the coming weeks.

He said that the cuts will not affect civilians who are working in war zones or foreigners who work on US military bases under bilateral agreements.

IANS