With just a year left for Lok Sabha elections, political parties are dong all they can to woo voters and West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee is not far behind. Months after the West Bengal Budget 2018 disappointed lakhs of state government employees, there is finally some good news for them. Banerjee on Tuesday announced an additional 18% dearness allowance (DA) for state government employees, including teachers and non-teaching staff in all government-aided educational institutions and employees of rural and urban local bodies. The hike would be effective from January 1, 2019.
Banerjee also said the state government has decided to merge the 10 per cent interim relief into the DA. This means that the total DA of state government employees from next year will be a whopping 125 per cent. “We have decided to release an additional 18 per cent DA to state government employees including teachers and non-teaching staff of educational institutions and employees of rural and urban local bodies. This will be effective from next January. We are announcing it a bit early because we have to follow the plan,” The Indian Express quoted Banerjee as saying.
The CM further said that she had promised DA hike to state government employees, and her decision comes “despite going through a very tight financial condition”. The DA hike will cost an annual additional expenditure of Rs 5000 crore to the state exchequer.
West Bengal is yet to implement the 7th pay Commission recommendations for salaries of government employees even as neighboring Tripura has taken big steps in this regard.
The West Bengal budget 2018, which was presented in February this year, had disappoined government staff as the allocation for salaries showed that even the 6th pay commission’s recommendations were unlikely to implemented. There was also no indication of a DA hike. In view of the upcoming panhcayat polls, the budget did have allocations for rural areas.
West Bengal government employees had claimed they were getting 39% less DA as compared to their Central counterparts.
Mamata Banerjee’s TMC is facing challenge from the BJP in the state. In Tripura Assembly elections early this year, BJP had made implementation of 7th Pay Commission recommendations for the state government employees as one of the biggest poll promises. Banerjee’s TMC would be wary of the saffron party, should it make the issue a poll promise in 2019.
NDTV reports that some employee unions in the state are saying that the DA hike was announced in view of the next year’s elections. Banerjee, a key architect of the anti-Modi alliance, is trying hard to dethrone PM Modi.