Of 'anomalies' and confusions | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, January 09, 2016 / LAST MODIFIED: 12:17 AM, January 09, 2016

Resentment Over Pay Scale

Of 'anomalies' and confusions

It was supposed to get praise but all it generated was bitterness. The eighth National Pay Scale should have come as good news for the public servants as it will give them more money in the pocket and a number of other perks.

Overall, the salaries and allowances for the civil servants have nearly doubled. They are also getting Bengali New Year bonus from the current fiscal year.

Instead of gratitude the government is hearing unhappy outbursts from the very people it is supposed to please. The causes are the exclusion of time scale and the selection grade as well as difference in pay among different cadres.

Amid movements and confusions among different government service employees, a puzzled finance minister commented that the ongoing movement is because of a lack of correct information.

Public university teachers have been one of the most vocal protesters of the exclusion of the selection grade and the time scale since the issuance of the gazette on December 15.

Teachers of government colleges, doctors, engineers, agriculturists and scientists have also been pressing for fixing “anomalies” in the pay scale. Employees of the central bank have been rallying on the premises of Bangladesh Bank.

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina then stepped in and directed to examine the new pay scale's "discriminatory provisions" involving different sections of professionals and take steps accordingly.

However, not everybody minds the removal of the time scale and the selection grade. A number of experts and civil servants have said they support the exclusion but there are some anomalies in the new pay scale that should be fixed. 

Employees of the Bangladesh Bank, who have long been demanding a separate pay scale, have launched protests rallies.

The present government in its previous term formed a committee for introducing a separate pay scale for the employees of the central bank and state banks. The Pay and Services Commission led by Mohammed Farashuddin, a former central bank governor, also recommended a different pay scale for bankers.

The government's highest level has approved the separate pay scale, but the government had to back off after other sections of the public sectors such as teachers at universities and colleges also demanded separate pay scales for them.

The new pay scale has not only deprived them of a separate pay scale but also curtailed some perks they were entitled to.

According to the new pay scale, the entry level post of the central bank for officers, the assistant director, will join the bank in the ninth grade, but officers under the BCS will join in the eighth grade.

In the past, both officers used to join the service in the ninth grade.

Central bankers said this will hurt the government's plan to hire more talented officers for Bangladesh Bank.

Executive directors of the central bank belonged to salary grade two and they will continue in the same grade.

But they want grade one for the executive directors as this is the highest level a central bank official could hope to reach.

The positions of both governors and deputy governors are contractual. 

Central bankers argue that if the BCS cadre officers can go on to be secretaries of their departments through promotion why can't they be given the same kind of career mobility.

If it is not done, talented candidates will not be too interested to join the central bank, said a central banker.

The Prokrichi BCS Coordination Committee demanded restoration of time scale and selection grade. It is an umbrella of 26 BCS cadre services and non-cadre services except the admin cadre.   

Officials of the non-cadre services said their entry level officers have to be given eighth grade like those officers in the BCS cadres.

There are many officials who join the government non-cadre service in areas like agriculture who have great contributions to the economy, they argue.

Salary of professors is the main issue for the public university teachers. Currently it is in the third grade.

Among the professors in the third grade, 25 percent are promoted to the first grade.

The teachers are uncertain how the promotion will work now with the time scale and the selection grade struck out.

The finance ministry wrote a letter to the education ministry, asking it to look at the issue through consultation.

The finance ministry said a guideline will be formulated under which some professors in the third grade will be promoted to the second grade, and then 25 percent of the professors in the second grade will be elevated to grade one.

The government has recently created a super grade named senior secretary whose pays are more than those in the first grade.

The public university teachers demanded super grade scale for their professors too.

The demand has created a row between the finance and the education ministries.

The government said a civil servant has to wait 27 to 30 years to get salaries in the first grade normally given to secretaries. But a lecturer becomes a professor with salaries in the third grade in less than half the time, within 12 years.

A number of experts backed the government in its decision to exclude the time scale and the selection grade as the systems involved irregularities.

However, they have urged the government to look into other demands of the civil servants.

TIME SCALE AND SELECTION GRADE

The finance ministry has sent a detailed report on time scale and selection grade to the cabinet division.

In the report, the ministry said the benefits in the time scale and in the selection grade are similar.

An employee is promoted to the next position after they receive either time scale or selection grade.

But employees are not automatically elevated to next time scale and selection grade.

For the promotion, the meeting of the departmental promotion committee (DPC) has to be held, and the annual confidential report of the employees and their performance are taken into consideration.

But the meeting of the DPC was not held regularly, causing  discontent among the employees about time scale and selection  grade. 

In case of providing time scale or selection grade, there were complexities in calculating the service year and scale facilities. These complexities result in litigations and these litigations are not disposed of quickly.

As a result, the government has to pay a huge amount of money in a one-off payment when the litigation is finally disposed of with the verdict for the employee, according to the finance ministry report.  

This situation had prompted the pay commission of 2004 to recommend the exclusion of time scale and selection grade to avoid the complexities.

The eighth commission led by Mohammed Farashuddin, also recommended doing away with the time scale and selection grade.

The commission also recommended introduction of compound annual increment of salaries by five percent. As a result, their salaries will double in 16 years.

The finance division has recommended either the new incremental system or a higher scale instead of time scale and selection grade to avoid huge fiscal burden.

The government has introduced the new increment system and two selection grades in the whole service life of government employees.

Still, the government employees are not calling for the cancellation  of the new incremental system.  They also want the restoration of both the time scale and selection grade.

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