PARALYSED STATE

 “If the government is overstaffed it must dictate a decision of having moratorium over offering jobs for some time,” said Ghulam Nabi, a retired engineer. “The government should stop becoming the last resort employer but it should pay well the person, it employs.”

An effort has to be made as part of the package to monetize the services that the state government is offering to its employees regardless of the ranks and status. “If an officer lives in a Cheshma Shahi hut, he or she must pay from the salary he gets and same should apply to everybody,” says a trade body office bearer. “As long as the employees have proper packages they will be more than willing to pay for the houses they live in and the cars they use and misuse.” A substantial part of the development money goes into the construction and maintenance of the services that the government is providing to its employees.

At some point of time the salaries have to be linked with performance. Currently employees get perks and promotions without any solid record of the performance. APRs (annual performance reports) are written, rightly and wrongly, on basis of the relationship that an officer has with his subordinate. There has to be a hire and fire policy and incentives for the better performers. Having part of the wages as Target Variable Pay could be implemented right now in departments like school education after copying it from the private sector.

The easiest way out is to bring in technology. A whopping investment was made in creating a world class backbone in the civil secretariat during the time of Farooq Abdullah but it still remains in disuse. Jumping to the digital bandwagon will bring in transparency and make each desk responsible for time bound output.

Ignominious Ignorance

Print medium in Kashmir has a limited reach but that did not prevent the government from launching a ‘media war’ against the striking employees. But flawed ideation and execution of the campaign that lacked content, ended up misrepresenting the facts. The planners, it seems, had not even gone through Economic Survey and the budget documents that the Planning and Finance Ministries tabled in the house.

The ‘campaign’ put the state’s total income at Rs 3600 crore. But they ignored the reality that it is State’s Gross Domestic Produce (GSDP) that makes the total income of J&K which, at current prices, was put at Rs 38297.58 crores by the Economic Survey of 2009-10.

It seems, they were referring to the state’s own revenues. Even on this front authors of the campaign misrepresented the facts. State’s own revenues according to the budget estimates for 2009-10 are Rs 4369 crores and estimates for the current fiscal are at Rs 4962 crores. Even this is an under-statement. Shares in central taxes was of the order of Rs 1880 crores in last financial year which Finance Ministry says would jump up to Rs 2911 crores in 2010-11. These devolutions from centre are in lieu of state’s surrender of collecting income tax and excise to the centre so this is state’s own resource, collection of which is outsourced to the federal government. Adding up Finance Commission grants would give the state its own resource base that would not be as dishonourable as the state government is so keen to project.

Even on the wage bill, spin doctors have got it slightly wrong. Budget estimates suggest Rs 8200 crores goes as pay and allowances to employees including Rs 725 crores as two installments of DA and Rs 129 crores on migrant salaries in 2010-11. Apart from Rs 1800 crores for pensions and Rs 482 crores as grant in aid for government aided institutions (being utilized for salary), the budget says Rs 927 crores (15.45% of the plan) would be spent under revenue head, mostly salaries, for creation of a “large number of plan posts for the new districts and establishments”.

But more interesting facet of the full page advertisement that conveys a total disconnect between the proletariat and bourgeoisie in J&K is the use of commodities that the spin doctors think could get expensive. It said people will have to pay Rs 30 extra for a litre of diesel, Rs 70 extra for a litre of petrol, double the cost of TVs, refrigerators and electronic goods and so on. This conveyed the ignorance of ruling class about common man’s priorities – rice, flour, sugar, onions, and potatoes. In fact state run ration depots are (sorry were) facing severe shortage of these commodities when the government was-

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