With an eye on the Lok Sabha polls, the Cabinet on Friday gave its nod for a 10 per cent hike in dearness allowance - taking it from 90 to 100 per cent, benefitting 50 lakh Central Government employees and 30 lakh pensioners.
Not stopping at that, Manmohan Singh Cabinet, in one of its last financial approval-granting meetings, asked the 7th Pay Commission to look into the issue of merger of 50 per cent DA with the basic pay of the employees and the pensioners. The DA hike, meanwhile, will come into effect from January.
The government also approved a proposal that will ensure a minimum monthly pension of Rs 1,000 under the Employees’ Pension Scheme- 95 run by EPFO, which will benefit 28 lakh pensioners, including five lakh widows.
These welfare decisions come just days ahead of the announcement of general election schedule by the Election Commission. Once the polls are announced and the model of code conduct comes into effect, the government will not be able give out doles. The DA hike, however, is due twice every year. The last hike was given on July 1, 2013.
The outgoing Union Cabinet which met for nearly two hours and took a slew of decisions postponed its decision on bringing the anti-corruption ordinances. Also the ordinance on disability and another empowering SEBI to crackdown on ponzi schemes were also deferred.
Sources said that right after Cabinet approved the chunk of its agenda, Cabinet Secretary Ajit Seth said the items relating to ordinance “stand postponed’’. The Cabinet is expected to have a special meeting on Saturday to clear the matter.
Despite the push given by the Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi to bring ordinances on five anti-graft bills which could not be passed in the last session of 15th Lok Sabha due to disruptions, it seems, the government has serious doubts about the propriety and legality of the move.
Sources said that differences within the Cabinet came to the fore when the Law Ministry sent the note asking for views of the ministries on the decision to promulgate ordinances. Any such move will have to withstand judicial scrutiny, some of the senior ministers have pointed out. The government, it seems, is especially cagey about bringing ordinances on bills on which there was no consensus, like the Public Procurement Bill and the one dealing with bribery of foreign officials.