It's the happiest Diwali ever....

The brightest diyas this Diwali will be lit outside houses of central government employees. For, when the rest of the world is reeling under the fear of losing jobs and a south-bound Sensex touching new lows, the staff of government offices are laughing their way to the bank. The sixth pay commission’s implementation could not have been timelier, they say. So when the world is plunging in recession, central government officers are busy counting their blessings along with the hard cash they received this month as arrears from the year 2006. And this was only the first instalment of 40 per cent of their total arrears due to employees who were awaiting a salary hike since 2006. The second instalment of 60 per cent of the payout would be given in the next financial year.The country has several central government establishments such as the railways, telecom, air force, army, CPWD, CRPF, DRDO, CISF, Income Tax, Survey of India, customs and excise, among others. These would perhaps live up to the ‘happy and prosperous’ Diwali greeting. After all, the payout amounts are ranged from Rs 20,000 for junior employees to Rs 40,000 to Rs 80,000 for mid-level staff to as high as Rs 2 to Rs 3 lakh for senior officials.In addition, there is a bonus component that has come their way which again is anywhere between a modest Rs 2,500 for some organisations to Rs 8,000 in others. The bonus amount depends on the kind of government organisation with service providers such as telecom and railways getting better bonuses than the ‘consumer’ government outfits such as the forces. But the icing on the cake perhaps is the revised salaries that government employees say have brought them almost on par with the private sector employees, who so far flaunted their fat pay cheques.The arrears on bonus component are also expected to come when salaries are credited to employees bank accounts at month end. “The staff here have been paid their arrears last week,’’ says Manoj Pande, chief personnel officer, South Central Railways. With the windfall expected from the implementation of the sixth pay commission, the central government staff are elated lot. Sharing the euphoria an employee said, “Everyone is queuing up outside banks since the payments were made through their bank accounts.’’ “I had been keenly waiting for this arrears. I have received Rs 22,000 and plan to do Diwali shopping in a big way,’’ says a visibly happy official of the General Post Office adding that arrears have been paid to almost 90 per cent employees so far, the payouts ranging from Rs 17,000 to Rs 70,000 depending on the designation and basic salary. He adds that even the part-time workers with a basic salary of Rs 3,000 have been paid nearly Rs 17,000 as arrears. With cash in their pockets, some are headed straight to jewellery stores to buy that cherished diamond set (the fluctuating gold prices not withstanding), others are buying themselves cars using the arrears to make down payments that would make their EMIs smaller, affordable. Others are using this chunk of money to repay mortgage bank loans. “But most people are investing in fixed deposits with some nationalised banks offering a good rate of interest,’’ says a senior government employee. “Seeing this market recession, we are now feeling we are financially secure. This is perhaps the first time we can say we are in a better financial situation at this point of time than private sector employees,’’ says an official. Besides, he says, they have no fear of being retrenched.

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