Cabinet nod for setting up of 6th Pay Commission

The sixth Pay Commission to revise wages of 3.3 million Central government employees was on Thursday cleared by the Cabinet -- a decision that is widely expected to put an additional burden of at least Rs 20,000 crore on the exchequer annually.

New Delhi, July 20: The sixth Pay Commission to
revise wages of 3.3 million Central government employees was on Thursday cleared by the Cabinet -- a decision that is widely expected to put an additional burden of at least Rs 20,000
crore on the exchequer annually.

Announcing the Cabinet decision today, Parliamentary
Affairs Minister Priya Ranjan Dasmunsi told reporters that
the three-member sixth pay commission has been given 18 months
to submit its recommendations.

The decision comes five months after Prime Minister
Manmohan Singh announced setting up of the commission. The
Centre had consulted the state governments, of which 16 had
sent their comments.

While BJP-ruled Gujarat and Madhya Pradesh totally
opposed setting up of the commission, six others -- Karnataka,
Assam, Tripura, Orissa, Manipur and Nagaland -- wanted the
Centre to share the burden, he said.

The previous pay commission, which was implemented in
1996-97, had raised the exchequer`s burden by Rs 17,000 crore
a year and also heavily burdened the states, forcing the then
Finance Minister to come out with a financial package to bail
them out.

The commission, which will have two members apart from
the chairman with the minister of state rank, would also
examine the need and quantum to sanction interim relief to the
employees, Dasmunsi said.

One of the members would be part time and the other who
would be a Member Secretary, who would be of the rank of
Secretary or Additional Secretary.

Dasmunsi said views of states were sought because once a
decision was taken on pay commission for Central government
employees, the state governments were expected to face similar
demands from their own employees.

The survey for 2005-06 had pointed out that in the
aftermath of the implementation of the fifth pay commission`s
recommendations, the general fiscal deficit increased every
year to reach a peak of 9.9 per cent in 2001-02.

The government needs to "avoid a repetition of a similar
deterioration (of fiscal situation) in the medium term," the
survey had said.

The Prime Minister had, however, said the move would not
hurt the fiscal situation and cause apprehension among foreign
investors.

Finance Ministry had said that all efforts would be made
to ensure that the Centre and states are not put to financial
difficulty as was the case after implementation of the fifth
pay commission.

Efforts would be made this time to see that the increased
wage burden was reasonable, appropriate and affordable and in
consonance with modern requirements, Finance Secretary Adarsh
Kishore had said.

Reacting strongly to the cabinet decision, business
chamber PHDCCI said hike in salary of government employees is
paid by the poor through higher taxes and opportunity costs of
money that could have been spent on physical and social
infrastructure.

Office of profit bill to be in present form

Government is expected to bring
the controversial office of profit bill in the same form in
the Monsoon Session of Parliament beginning July 24, turning
down changes suggested by President A P J Abdul Kalam, while
returning the legislation earlier passed by the house.

Contrary to expectation, the Union Cabinet did not discuss the bill. "It was not part of the
agenda," Information and Broadcasting Minister Priyaranjan
Dasmunsi told reporters.

Government sources said there is no option but to bring
the bill in the present form.

The bill, which provides for exclusion of 56 posts
including National Advisory Council (NAC) chairpersonship, is
expected to be cleared by the Union Cabinet soon before being
taken up by Parliament.

The President had returned the Parliament (Prevention of
Disqualification) Amendment Bill (as the office of profit bill
is known), passed by both houses of Parliament, on May 30 to
Parliament for reconsideration for a "comprehensive and
generic" criteria.

Another important point the President had raised was in
relation to the posts sought to be exempted by the new law.
The implication was that the names of offices, for which
petitions already pending under process by the competent
authority should be addressed by Parliament while
reconsidering the bill.

Indo-Irish accord on cultural relations approved

An agreement to promote cultural
relations and exchanges in the fields of arts, education,
science and technology, public health and mass media between
India and Ireland was approved by the Union Cabinet today.

The agreement, signed this January by then Urban
Development and Culture Minister S Jaipal Reddy and his Irish
counterpart John O` Donoghue, would remain in force for five
years and renewed automatically for five years unless either
contracting party gives a notice to terminate it, Information
and Broadcasting Minister P R Dasmunsi told reporters here.

It also envisages visits on reciprocal basis of artists,
academics, sportspersons and journalists and exchange of art
exhibitions and dance and music creations.

The two countries agreed to encourage and facilitate
these exchanges besides providing facilities and scholarships
to students and scientific personnel of the other country, he
added.

Special Bureau to control wildlife crime

Government will constitute a Special Bureau to control wildlife crime specially tiger poaching.

The Wild Life (Protection) Amendment Bill, 2005, pending in Rajya Sabha, would be further amended to incorporate recommendations of the Tiger Task Force appointed by the Prime Minister, Dasmunsi told reporters here.

"It would strengthen conservation of tigers and other endangered species of wild animals through effective combating of wildlife crimes by constituting the tiger and other endangered Species Crime Control Bureau," he said.

He said the Cabinet today approved making amendments to this effect in the Wild Life (Protection) Amendment Bill, 2005 pending in Rajya Sabha.

Indo-Fiji accord in field of health, medicine approved

An agreement to enhance bilateral cooperation between India and Fiji islands in the field of health and medicine was approved by the Union Cabinet.

The Cabinet meeting chaired by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh gave its ex-post facto approval for signing of the agreement between the two countries for a period of five years, Information and Broadcasting Minister Priyaranjan Dasmunsi told reporters here.

The agreement, signed in October last year during the state visit of Fiji Prime Minister here, would encourage cooperation between the two countries on the basis of equality, reciprocity and mutual benefit, he said.

The pact would cover areas like medical treatment referral, drugs and pharmaceutical products, medical consumable product, clinical service development, medical equipment, public health, communicable disease control and surveillance and hospital management.

Similar agreements and plan of cooperation have been signed with other countries like Hungary, Yemen, Seychelles, Tanzania and Austria in the past.

Dasmunsi said the child rights amendment bill would also be introduced.

Bureau Report

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