Kolkata: West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Thursday announced 15 per cent hike in dearness allowance of state government employees from next January.
The increased DA for over 1.1 million employees would cost the exchequer about Rs 4,500 crore. She also said that all the arrears would be cleared in phases by end of 2019.
Addressing the state government employee union and state government workers' federation at Nazrul Mancha, she announced an increase in the number of holidays from 27 to 35 days from next year that would also include 13 days' holiday at a stretch during Durga Puja in 2018.
She also gave assurances on bridging the DA gap between Central and state government employees by 2019.
She added: "There will be a hike in DA by 15 percent from January 1 next year. It will be applicable for all state government employees including the teaching and non-teaching staff."
Giving a breakup of the expense that the state government will bear for increasing the DA, she said: "There will be an additional expense of Rs 4,500 crore of the state government for increasing the DA. In the past six years till January 1 in 2017, this government has increased the DA from 35 percent to 50 percent in six phases despite the financial crisis and it has led to an increase of expense by Rs 27,900 crore. Now, the amount will go up to Rs 32,400 crore as the total expense."
The CM further stated: "One has to keep in mind that the Centre did not give the money to the state government. I am writing to the Centre asking it to give us the money that is needed to increase the DA along with them. Let them plan a policy. Now, there is GST which is a one-tax formula." She added that in the past six years her government has cleared a debt of Rs 1.79 lakh crore — a legacy left behind by the erstwhile CPI(M) government.
"Moreover, this year we have to give Rs 45,000 crore and it will go up to Rs 47,000 crore next year," she said adding that she made it possible to give the DA in such a situation just because she is always keen on small savings.
Stating that her government would have done much more if the Left Front government had not left behind the legacy of such a huge debt, she said: "Earlier, state government employees had to think whether they would get their salaries and pensions on the first day of every month or not. But now, they don't have to worry as salary gets credited to their respective accounts on the first day of the month."
She criticised the erstwhile Left Front government for not addressing the DA issue during their 34-year-long rule. The CM also assured all help to ensure that the government employees do not face any problem in getting their children admitted when they get transferred to some other district.
Two review committees have also been formed to come up with a promotion policy for employees posted in 92 directorates. One of the committees will be headed by state Parliamentary Affairs minister Partha Chatterjee and the other by the Chief Secretary.