Just good won’t be good enough to get government employees an annual raise now

Central government employees will be entitled to annual increments and promotions, under a new pay structure that takes effect next month, only if they get a ‘very good’ on their report cards rather than just ‘good’ — the current benchmark.

The finance ministry on Tuesday notified new salaries and pensions as well as other recommendations of the Seventh Pay Commission that will impact 4.7 million workers and 5.3 million pensioners.

The commission — which reviews pay grades and suggests hikes every 10 years — had recommended an increase of up to 23.55% in overall take-home amounts, fixed the minimum monthly pay at Rs 18,000, and revised the highest pay to Rs 2.5 lakh for officers of the rank of cabinet secretary, the highest ranking bureaucrat.

Beneficiaries will get arrears from January 2016, to be paid before March 31, 2017.

But with the higher salaries come rigorous performance checks and tougher promotion criteria for the bureaucracy.

“There is one significant aspect where this commission feels a change is required… The commission recommends this benchmark, in the interest of improving performance level, be enhanced from ‘good’ to ‘very good’,” the pay panel had suggested. This was accepted by the government.

The commission had also sought “more stringent criteria such as clearing of departmental examinations or mandatory training before grant of Modified Assured Career Progression”. A panel will now be appointed to streamline the national pension system. The revision is likely to cost the government Rs 1.02 lakh crore annually or 0.7% of GDP.

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