Hike now only in basic pay
The government will implement the new pay structure for public servants excluding time scale and selection grade -- two compensatory perks for those who deserve promotions but cannot be given due to a shortage of posts.
Though some government officials oppose this exclusion, the finance ministry officials said it was necessary since the systems, especially the controversial selection grade, often breed corruption and discrimination among the staff.
Even then, the government has to count several hundred crore taka every month once the new pay scale takes effect.
An additional amount of around Tk 14,000 crore will be required to pay only the increased basic salaries of the government employees, finance ministry officials estimate.
The ministry may place the new wage structure at next week's cabinet meeting, as recommended by a secretary-level review committee and the Pay and Services Commission.
The finance ministry sent a report on the proposed pay structure, including the disputes surrounding it, to Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina.
The PM later sent it back to the ministry with "some instructions" and it now awaits the finance minister's approval, according to highly placed ministry officials.
After the minister signs it, the report will be placed for the cabinet's approval. Once approved there, it is likely to take another 30 to 45 days to issue the circular on the new pay scale, according to the officials.
This means though the new pay structure has been in place since July 1, the public servants may start drawing the increased salaries from October with arrears of the previous three months.
TIME SCALE & SELECTION GRADE
The pay commission, headed by former Bangladesh Bank governor Mohammed Farashuddin, submitted its report to Finance Minister AMA Muhith on December 21 last year, recommending the abolition of time scale and selection grade systems.
The suggestion was backed by a secretary-level review committee headed by Cabinet Secretary Musharraf Hossain Bhuiyan. After reviewing the report, the committee tendered its recommendations to the finance minister on May 13.
Under the existing system, if government employees serve satisfactorily long enough to deserve a promotion but cannot get it due to unavailability of higher posts, they are given salaries in that higher grade as financial compensation. This is called the time scale.
The selection grade works the same way as the time scale, except that it is given to a selected few based on their performance.
"A lot of underhand dealings are made for the selection grade as it completely depends on the assessment report of the employees," said a high official of the finance ministry official.
Then again, an employee can avail both these perks at the same time. As a result, sometimes junior officials get more than what their superior officers do, he said.
However, a number of associations representing secretariat-based officials and staff demand continuation of the selection grade and time scale.
"Now that demands have been made for the continuation of these systems, another secretary-level committee may be formed to look into those," said the finance ministry official.
The pay commission in its report suggested 4 to 5 percent yearly salary hike on incremental basis instead of time scale and selection grade.
"Under the new system, government employees will get more than what they would with the selection grade and time scale in place," said the finance ministry official.
Apart from these, university professors want their salaries in the grade for senior secretaries, which the pay commission didn't want.
"Unlike the government staff, university teachers get large scale promotions … If university professors are paid the same salary as senior secretaries get, it will be a huge financial burden on the government," the official said.
"Besides, government officials can serve up to the age of 59 while 65 is the service age for university teachers. So, professors serve a lot longer than senior secretaries and get paid for a longer period of time," he argued.
However, their demands would be recommended for further scrutiny, he added.
RISE IN GOVT EXPENSES
According to government plans, this year public servants will get only the basic salary stipulated in the new pay scale while the allowances will be given as per the previous scale. The increased allowances will available from the next fiscal year.
"It will require between Tk 12,000 crore and Tk 14,000 crore additionally this year to implement even the new basic salaries," said the finance ministry official.
For salaries and allowances of the government staff, the budget of the current fiscal year has allocated Tk 45,153 crore, 53 percent more than last year's revised budget.
The review committee made some changes in the pay structure recommended by the commission.
While the commission proposed Tk 8,200 as salary for the lowest of the 20 pay grades, the review committee raised it to Tk 8,250.
The commission's recommendation for salary in the highest grade was Tk 80,000 which was slashed to Tk 75,000 by the review committee.
Similarly, the committee downsized proposed salary for senior secretaries from Tk 88,000 to Tk 84,000 and for the cabinet secretary from Tk 100,000 to Tk 90,000.
The proposed salaries for a few more upper tier grades might be slimmed down by Tk 2,000 to Tk 3,000 in the cabinet meeting, according to finance ministry sources.