Basic salary of civil servants will almost double under the new national pay scale with employees in the lower rungs getting the highest percentage of raise.
The new pay structure for civil servants and members of the armed forces was approved yesterday at a cabinet meeting with Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina in the chair.
In the highest grade, basic salary will rise by 95 percent to stand at Tk 78,000 (fixed) and in the lowest grade by 101 percent to become Tk 8,250. There are 20 grades.
Besides, the cabinet secretary or the principal secretary or those in equivalent posts will get Tk 86,000 (fixed) and a senior secretary Tk 82,000 (fixed).
In the new scale, a festival bonus for the Bangla New Year has been introduced but time scale and selection grade have been abolished. A new annual increment system has also been introduced.
The cabinet approved the new scale after considering reports of the National Pay Commission, led by former Bangladesh Bank governor Mohammed Farashuddin, and the review committee, headed by Cabinet Secretary Musharraf Hossain Bhuiyan.
Briefing reporters after the meeting at the conference hall of Cabinet Division, Musharraf said that the new basic salary would be effective from July 1 this year, and the new bonus and increment from July 1 next year.
He, however, said government employees will start getting basic salary and arrears under the new pay scale as soon as a circular is issued in this regard.
A finance division official said it may take them at least a month to issue the circular, meaning the employees will be able to draw their increased salary from November.
Musharraf said the government will require an additional Tk 15,904 crore to implement the salary increase this fiscal year. In the next FY it will need an additional Tk 23,828 crore as the new bonus and increment will be given from next year.
The cabinet secretary said the government's revenue income has been increasing every year and hence the government won't be under any pressure to implement the new scale.
He also said the cabinet took another important decision that from now on there will be no classification between government employees of different classes e.g. class one, class three. Their identity will be determined by their grade. In matters of attesting photos or documents, an employee will be designated by his/her grade.
EQUAL RANKS FOR 3 SERVICES' CHIEFS
Ranks of air and navy chiefs will be upgraded to the rank of the army chief. The salary of the chiefs of three forces would be Tk 86,000 (fixed), which is equal to the salary of the cabinet secretary and the principal secretary to the Prime Minister's Office, Musharraf said.
Currently, the ranks of navy and air chiefs are equivalent to the rank of a lieutenant general in the army and their salary is Tk 42,000. The chief of army staff gets Tk 45,000 with the rank of general, he said.
The navy chief's current vice-admiral rank would be made admiral while the air chief's air marshal rank would be air chief marshal.
Public servants will get 20 percent of their basic salary as an extra bonus for the Bangla New Year in addition to other festival bonuses.
The cabinet secretary said the existing festival bonuses are religion-based and employees receive it at different times. But the new bonus will be given for all at the same time.
MAJOR CHANGE IN INCREMENT
The cabinet has scrapped the time scale and the selection grade as per recommendations by the pay commission and the review committee.
Government employees are offered these increments when they do not get promotion in due time. But large-scale corruption takes place before these increments are given and hence a new system has been introduced to check such irregularities.
From the sixth to the 20th grade, the yearly increment will be five percent of the basic salary on incremental basis.
In the fifth grade, it will rise by 4.5 percent, in the third and fourth grades by four percent and in the second grade by 3.75 percent.
Currently, an increment is given on the basis of an employee's joining date and promotion. From now on, however, the increment will be given in July every year irrespective of one's joining or promotion.
The cabinet secretary said the time scale is discriminatory and some get it while some are deprived. The selection grade is more discriminatory.
He said all will benefit under the new increment system.
“The cabinet thinks a universal benefit system is more logical than the one reserved for a handful of people, posts and organisations”, said Musharraf.
The cabinet secretary said teachers under the MPO will get salary from July 1 as per the new scale.
However, the finance division will make a separate review to determine who are eligible to get MPO as per the existing criteria, he said.
Both the pay commission and the review committee have recommended that teachers under MPO should be given enhanced salary six months after the pay hike for government employees is implemented.
Musharraf said the cabinet has discussed university teachers' demand for salary increase but instant decision cannot be taken in this regard. So, decisions will be taken later as per the cabinet committee's recommendations.
However, until a decision is reached, university teachers will get salary under the new scale.
CHANGES IN ALLOWANCE SYSTEM
Currently, government employees including defence staffs, police and Rab get 12 to 70 percent of their basic salary as special allowance.
But under the new scale, special allowance has been fixed. Their allowance will not decrease due to the system; it will rather increase in some cases.
If this change was not brought in the system, this allowance would be close to the basic pay in many instances, Musharraf said, explaining.
However, house rent allowance will continue to be paid under the present system, he said.
Prof Mustafizur Rahman, executive director of Centre for Policy Dialogue (CPD), said the new pay scale for the government employees is justified given the size of the economy, revenue and inflation.
“The hike will not contribute to any significant inflationary pressure,” Prof Rahman told The Daily Star yesterday. “But the government has to be careful so that house owners cannot hike rents illogically.”
The CPD boss is also unhappy to see that the government did not take any initiative, particularly reforms of the public institutions, to increase productivity of its employees.
“I expected that the government would enact Public Service Act and take other institutional reforms in parallel with the new pay scale. But it did nothing like that,” Prof Mustafizur said.
According to him, reforms are needed to make public servants productive, accountable and transparent.