ISLAMABAD: The government has for the time being managed to avert a crisis that could have hit all its employees as the Accountant General of Pakistan Revenue (AGPR) has agreed to release salaries for July but refused to call off its strike.
Unlike the trend, this time around hundreds of thousands of employees of the federal government will be getting their salaries after the 5th of August since the payroll section of the AGPR had not cleared cheques by Tuesday evening.
Since June, the AGPR employees have been on strike, demanding either an end to the discriminatory practice of giving selected departments double salaries or extending the same facility to the AGPR.
Employees of the presidency, Prime Minister’s Secretariat, Federal Board of Revenue (FBR), National Accountability Bureau (NAB) and motorway police get double salaries every month. The FBR’s employees were the latest addition to the privileged club after they too went on strike in May and June and managed to get their demand accepted from the finance ministry, which wanted to avoid revenue losses at any cost.
The government had discontinued double salaries for the FBR after the figure fudging scandal of 2011. While approving the summary for giving double salaries to the FBR employees, Finance Secretary Abdul Wajid Rana had noted that this could become a trend in future to stage strikes to press demands for double salaries.
Talking to The Express Tribune, finance ministry spokesman Rana Assad Amin said negotiations with the AGPR employees are going on and the issue will be resolved soon. He said the federal employees will get salaries either on Wednesday or Thursday as the Auditor General of Pakistan (AGP) and AGPR have given assurances in this regard.
Amin pointed out that the government will have to take into account the budgetary implications of giving double salaries to the employees, fearing this may become a trend and every department will start staging strikes.
Representatives of the Joint Action Committee of AGPR employees said cheques will be printed on Wednesday and it will take at least five to six days before the employees get the salaries. However, they made it clear that this is the last time they have given any relaxation due to the holy month of Ramazan and if the government did not resolve the issue the employees will not get salaries from next month.
AGP Akhtar Buland Rana has already taken up the matter with the prime minister but due to the finance ministry’s opposition the issue has remained unresolved.
Published in The Express Tribune, August 1st, 2012.