#JKBudget2018: Dr Drabu expresses gratitude to all the employees, announces slew of measures

Tasavur Mushtaq

Srinagar

Expressing gratitude to all the employees of the state government, Finance Minister Dr Haseeb A Drabu said during the last three years, the government has received excellent cooperation from employees.

“There has never been a situation of discord between the Government and the employees. To express my gratitude to all the employees of the State Government, I am announcing the release of 1 percent Dearness Allowance due to the employees from 1st July 2017,” this he said while presenting his fourth consecutive budget of BJPDP government.

Assuring employees of removing the pay anomalies in different departments, he said that “our Government is already committed to the implementation of 7th Pay Commission Recommendations from April 1, 2018, which will be effective from 1st January 2016.”

In a huge relief to youth employed at an advanced age Dr Drabu said: “being an employee friendly Government, we recently reduced the eligibility for a full pension from 28 years of qualifying service to 20 years of qualifying service.” This measure, he said alone will benefit more than half of the number of employees on the rolls of the government, as they were denied full pension for want of qualifying service.

He on the occasion announced that “unmarried daughters” of the employees, who were hitherto not entitled to receive a pension, have now been made eligible to receive pension once the employee and his/her spouse is no more. This he said is a step towards promoting gender equity as well.

Strongly negating the harassment of employees, Dr Drabu said employees are asked to produce a certificate relating to withdrawals of GP Fund since their joining of service at the time of their retirement. This is not only cumbersome but unnecessary.

“I am of the view that we have to keep procedures simple and make processes easy. When the employees retire, after having served for more than three decades and more, they should not be harassed in anything more so in getting their own hard-earned money back! This is no way to express gratitude,” he said and added that “I propose to dispense with this practice. Government employees will, henceforth, be required to furnish only credit and debit statements for the last five years for their final GP fund withdrawal. Once our IT systems and processes improve next year, I will dispense with this also.”

He said that employees, who have a certain percentage of balance always available within their GP Fund accounts for three consecutive years, are entitled to Deposit Linked Insurance of Rs. 10 lakh. “I propose to enhance the Deposit Linked Insurance of GP Fund subscribers from Rs 10 lakh to Rs 50 lakh. A similar scheme shall be framed for the employees covered under New Pension Scheme (NPS). GP Fund rules shall be amended accordingly during the next financial year.”

Terming it an effort to secure the healthcare facilities, Dr Drabu said the government is launching an improved and enhanced Group Mediclaim Insurance Policy. “Unlike in the past when only gazetted employees were insured, now all the Government employees including pensioners have been covered along with 5 family members. Given the fact that there are 4.5 lakh employees, and about 1.5 lakh pensioners, this insurance cover extends to about 30 lakh people.”

Extending the services to employees of autonomous bodies, PSUs, Local Bodies, he said they are free to voluntarily opt for this scheme. “I am making this scheme applicable to accredited working journalists also.”
In case of death, he said the government has increased the Personal Accidental Insurance from Rs. 5.00 lakh to Rs. 10.00 lakh.

Dr Haseeb A Drabu presenting his fourth budget in Assembly (Image: DIPR)

For the security detail of protected persons, Dr Drabu said it is inhumane to keep them outside in the tent and announced to have prefab huts. For this, he earmarked Rs 2 crore. “The security guards detailed for the security of VVIPs and various vital installations live in the tents outside the premises of their protectees. These personnel, who protect us and other VVIPs live in conditions that are sometimes subhuman. In order to ensure that they have proper living conditions, I propose to set aside a sum of Rs. 2.00 crore for construction of prefab huts for these personnel.”

Terming this announcement as “personal joy”, he said as a society, we still aspire our children to be doctors and engineers. This is our wish for the best and brightest. Yet the Government in complete denial of this civil society value system has been treating the same best and brightest very shabbily. Not anymore.

“It is a matter of shame that a bright young professional joining as Junior Engineer often retires as an Assistant Engineer or a Chief Engineer retires only in the substantive grade of AEE,” he said and added that “to start addressing these concerns, I have worked out an “Assured Career Progression Scheme” for all the Gazetted cadres of engineering departments on the analogy of MACP in the Government of India. This shall be notified shortly.”

He extended the Assured Career Progression to other technical cadres like Agriculture, Horticulture, Animal & Sheep Husbandry etc. as well. “A Career Progression Scheme for all Gazetted Services in the State who do not have time-bound Career Progression avenues has probably never been even thought of in the last sixty years, let alone be done in one go,” he said.

Under the scheme, he said three financial up-gradations counted from the direct entry grade shall be assured to Gazetted Officers on completion of 10, 20 and 30 years’ service strictly on the pattern existing in Government of India. The details of the scheme shall be notified separately and the scheme shall come into effect from 1st April 2018.

Making the transfers to other areas lucrative, he said every government employee today seeks posting in the twin cities of Jammu and Srinagar. “Sadly, nobody wants to serve in the remote areas of the State. This has impacted the service delivery adversely in the remote areas. In order to incentivise transfers and postings in rural areas, Government shall come out with a scheme to incentivise the postings in the remote areas.”

The Scheme, he said shall, besides having a rational framework of allowances, also have a built-in incentive for postings in the rural areas, while dis-incentivising “deployment” in urban areas. Finance Department shall work out the details of the Scheme and notify it before March 31st, 2018.

To mitigate the problem of housing of government employees, he said Directorate of Estates shall create an SPV in partnership with the J&K Bank and undertake all the pending housing projects. “Over the next two years, around Rs. 500 crores is expected to be invested for the creation of new housing facilities for the Government employees.”

Talking about the regularization of daily wagers, he said “this policy seeks to address a social and humanitarian issue and genuine grievances of not receiving proper wages despite being engaged for several years in one form or the other. The implementation of the roadmap for the regular engagement will ensure a sustained livelihood for them.” And added that “it is imperative to put in place, post the rollout of the scheme of engagement, a foolproof mechanism to ensure that there aren’t any more such engagements in future. To start with, the budget head of “outsourcing and maintenance” has been done away with. Therefore, from now on, money can’t be drawn to pay wages to those engaged illegally.”

Further, he said the departments shall clearly mention in the allocations to be made under CSS, State Plans or any other developmental programmes that no casual worker shall be engaged under these schemes or projects. If there is a need under these schemes, Departments will have to make an indent for labour to the Manpower Supply Corporation that has been already approved by the Government.”

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