On September 25, the government of India announced the constitution of the seventh central pay commission. While the central pay commission’s (CPC) recommendations are applicable to central government employees’ salaries, the salaries of all state government and local bodies (municipal corporations, etc) employees are revised after central government’s acceptance of recommendations of the CPC.
The first CPC was constituted in May 1946. It was based on the idea of giving the employees living wages that suit the conditions of the day, qualified by the condition that in no case should be a man’s pay be less than a living wage. The second pay commission stated that the pay structure and the working conditions of the government employees should be crafted in such a way that efficient functioning of the system is ensured by recruiting persons above or with a minimum qualification.
Cost of living and type of economy are two major factors behind the pay commission award. India is moving towards a market economy and the government has to compete with the private sector to attract talent, and hence, offer competitive salaries.
The government generally accepts all recommendations of pay commissions regarding increase in salaries. However, it skirts hard decisions such as down-sizing/right-sizing of the government, linking the efficiency/productivity of employee with future pay increase/promotions, etc. India is facing huge challenges of skilled manpower in various sectors, viz. education, technology, etc. What we need is right-sizing of the government to provide crucial services efficiently to the citizens.
Some states revise salaries of their employees on the basis of the recommendations of separate commissions/committees formed by them while some use the CPC recommendations. Salary revision of state government employees, generally, takes place with a lag from the revision of central government employees’ salaries. Two states, Karnataka and Kerala, follow schedules different from the central government’s for revising employees’ salaries, through their own salary revision committee/commission. Karnataka revised salaries of its employees on April 1, 2012; Kerala revised them last on July 1, 2009.
The salary revision, both at the central and state levels, takes place without factoring in the governments’ ability to absorb shocks of wage increase and the fiscal implications associated with it. Ceteris paribus, an increased wage bill enlarges the deficit and affects inflation, interest rates and growth prospects adversely. A higher wage bill increases government’s committed expenditure, which is impossible to adjust even in the medium-term. Increased consumption demand provides