The purpose of salary revision

There has been a lot of debate, if not discourse, on the proposed pay and allowances since the Pay Commission’s report was made public on Tuesday.

The general mood, from both online and offline discussions, is that the proposed revision and allowances are skewed towards who already earn a lot. The direct comparison is on the difference the highest 29 and lowest 14 percent would translate into real terms. The housing and many other allowances are also not received well.

As people start understanding the process of how a pay revision is approved, they expect the government to keep their promise of “narrowing the gap”. Many believe and hope that their frustration will reach the Parliament where a final call will be made.

The Commission has proposed to table their recommendations as a report and not a money bill. There is a difference when the report is not a money bill. Within the proposed budget for the revision, changes are possible, if parliamentarians are convinced by the feedback. The government has hinted of ‘tweaking it a little bit.’

Like every proposal in the past, this one too instigated some debate and anger. The trend has been to criticise the gap. Some are even calling the ministers, Member of Parliament and the prime minister to take a token raise and refuse the proposed amount or percentage.

No revision is fair. No revision will make everyone happy. Why do we have differences in positions and responsibilities? Why do have systems of organisation in the civil service or public corporations? Salaries are pegged to positions and responsibilities and not on individuals. There will be differences.

The proposed revision actually has considered the interest of those in the lower rung of society. For the first time, they will enjoy retirement benefits. They will be forced to save so that they have something to look forward to when their term ends. They are getting housing allowance. In short, their important services are recognised. They should be the happiest group with the recommendations even if others are making noise on their behalf.

It is unfair, for instance, to compare the elementary service personnel to politicians. The elected people’s representatives should not be begrudged. They took the risk while many enjoyed their positions or didn’t take the opportunity to become one.

A decision will be made, sooner or later, but the bigger question is what after the pay revision? Salary revision is just the beginning. It should have impact on the performance of the government -the performance of the public servants.

A lot of emphasis is placed on the public servants in bringing changes on the ground by implementing the plans and policies of elected governments. The most common complaint among the public still is on service delivery because it is entangled in bureaucratic procedures or missing people at work place during working hours.

The complaint from the other side is that our public servants are paid too much for not doing much or for attending meetings. This if true is a bigger problem. They cannot be removed through elections.

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