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Karnataka govt helpless to meet transport strikers’ demands

Staff want salary on par with 6th Pay Commission recommendations .This will put additional burden of Rs 3,000 crore on state exchequer
 

Published: 08th April 2021 04:15 AM  |   Last Updated: 08th April 2021 04:15 AM   |  A+A-

Majestic Bus Stand in Bengaluru falls silent without the usual hustle and bustle following the indefinite strike on Wednesday | Meghana Sastry

Express News Service

BENGALURU: Given its current financial situation, the state government seems to be in a helpless position to consider the demand of transport employees that their salary be brought on par with the Sixth Pay Commission recommendations, which will mean a salary hike of around 20 per cent — an additional burden of around Rs 3,000 crore in the next three years.Even without any revision, the government requires Rs 5,375 crore this year to pay salaries of employees of four corporations, who are on an indefinite strike from Wednesday.

The government has offered to increase their salary by 8 per cent as an interim measure and has written to the Election Commission seeking its clearance to implement it considering that the election code of conduct is in place for the bypolls.

As per the estimated expenditure worked out by the government, an 8 per cent hike will result in an additional burden of Rs 271.23 crore and bring the total outgo to Rs 5,646 crore. And by 2023 (four years from 2020 to 2023), this will be an additional expenditure of Rs 1,137 crore with the total salary bill going up to Rs 23,601 crore.

If the government considers the agitators’ demand, it will need an additional Rs 645 crore, and if the hike is with revenue incentives, it will require Rs 815 crore. This will mean an additional expenditure of Rs 3,500 crore (from 2020 to 2023) if the hike is with revenue incentives, and Rs 2,822 crore without revenue incentive.

Sources said that given the current financial position, it will be difficult for the government to consider such a demand. The state also needs to have clarity on mobilizing additional resources as corporations continue to incur losses. Besides, the current revenues are not sufficient to support salary and fuel expenses.

While rejecting the employees’ demand and warning them of stern action, Chief Secretary P Ravi Kumar had on Tuesday stated that corporations were incurring a loss of Rs 4 crore a day, but despite that, the government had ensured payment of their salaries right through the lockdown last year.

However, employees rejected the government’s argument. “Why is the government, which has given hundreds of crores to many caste-based boards, now talking about a financial crisis?” said Kodihalli Chandrashekar, who is among those leading the agitation. 

According to him, the funds mentioned by the government is not too much when it comes to correcting injustice for 1.30 lakh employees of the corporations. Although reiterating that they will continue the strike till their demands are met, Chandrashekar said they are open to discussions with the state government.



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