Ahead of the bypolls to four Assembly constituencies in state, the Punjab government Saturday announced 3 per cent hike in Dearness Allowance (DA) of its employees and pensioners with effect from November 1. While the government termed it a “Diwali” bonanza. The employees organisation rejected the DA.
A government statement quoting Finance Minister Manpreet Singh Badal said that Chief Minister Capt Amarinder Singh had ordered the hike as a “mark of appreciation for the hard work and dedication” of the government employees.
“The decision will cost the exchequer an additional Rs 480 crore per annum,” Manpreet said, adding that the implementation of the decision coincides with the Diwali celebrations for the employees and pensioners of the state government.
The state government, he said, was committed to the welfare of the government employees and would continue to ensure that they get their due, irrespective of the state’s fiscal situation.
However, Gurmel Singh Sidhu, convener of the Sanjha Mulazam Manch Punjab and Chandigarh – an organistion of the government employees – rejected the “meagre” allowance. He said 27 per cent DA was pending but the government has released only three per cent. “Twenty-four per cent is still pending. This is too less,” he said adding that this DA installment was pending since January 2018 and has been sanctioned after a delay of 22 months.”
Sidhu added that installments of July 2018, January 2019, and July 2019 were still pending. “How is the government calling it a Diwali bonanza when so many installments are pending,” he asked.
Rejecting the DA, the Sanjha Mulazam Manch, threatened to stage a dharna in Mukerian on October 14 and Dakha on October 16. Mukerian and Dakha alongwith Phagwara and Jalalabad are the four Assembly constituencies where bypolls will be held on October 21.
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