ISLAMABAD: The hopes of around three to four million government employees and pensioners were dashed on Friday when the government did not announce any increase in their salaries and pensions while presenting the annual budget for the financial year 2020-21.
It was earlier being expected that salaries and pensions would be raised by 20% but apparently the government gave in to pressure of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), which had urged the country to freeze the salaries of government employees and adhere to the fiscal consolidation path by showing a nominal primary deficit in the new budget.
The government was initially reluctant to cede to the demand but eventually decided to keep the salaries and pensions at the same level for the upcoming fiscal year.
“It’s a grave injustice [not increasing the salaries of government employees] at the behest of the IMF,” PML-N leader Khawaja Asif said. “The future of the country’s people has been given into the hands of the IMF,” he added.
PPP Chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari said the government should have given relief to the elderly by increasing their pensions during this difficult time.
Senate Deputy Chairman Saleem Mandviwala said the decision would add to the frustration of government employees. “Not raising the salaries of government employees will not send a good message,” he added. “The government should reconsider its decision.”
PPP’s Nafeesa Shah said amid the coronavirus pandemic, the government was required to provide relief to every segment of the society, especially the government employees and pensioners, but it presented a visionless budget instead.
“At least the lower grade employees should have been given some relief.”
PML-N’s Musadik Malik lambasted the government for presenting a budget “which did not have a single initiative that would spur economic growth leading to job opportunities”.
“The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, but expecting different results each time,” he noted.
“The government hasn’t increased salaries while the purchasing power of people has decreased.”
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The government’s decision obviously did not go down well employees and pensioners. A grade-17 employee of the defence ministry while requesting anonymity told The Express Tribune that government employees were furious and disappointed over the move.
Interestingly, the armed forces had proposed to the government to merge four ad-hoc relief allowances with the basic pay and then grant a 20% raise in the salaries of officers and personnel for the upcoming budget 2020-21.
The Joint Staff Headquarters had informed the finance ministry that the government employees, including personnel of the armed forces, were being affected due to the current hike owing to devaluation of rupee, the impact on the Consumer Price Index, and an increase in utility bills and inflation and needed an increase in salaries. However, the budget speech did not touch the subject at all.
Apart from around 560,000 employees of the Pakistan armed forces, the analysis of the Establishment Division Report 2018-19 shows that size of federal government in respect of sanctioned and actual working strength of its civil employees is 663,234 and 581,755 respectively.
Of the total sanctioned strength, 87.71% posts are filled, whereas 12.29% posts were vacant in various ministries and divisions during the year 2018-19. The distribution of the actual strength shows that a small share of 4.63% is occupied by the officers working in basic scales 17-22, whereas 95.37% is occupied by employees working in basic scales 1-16, which is a very large share in the total number of federal government civil servants.
As per the data, the total number of female employees is 27,865.
The Pakistan Post had put the total number of pensioners of the Pakistan Army, Pakistan Navy, Pakistan Air Force, and Frontier Constabulary at 1,656,037 in the year 2018-19.
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