Rationale sound, repercussions out of control
Ahead of Eid-ul-Azha, on September 7 the Cabinet Secretary of the Bangladesh Government announced cabinet approval of a pay scale revision package. The new pay package has enhanced up to 101% the salaries of public servants. Increased basic salaries will take effect in two months retrospectively from July this year. However, it may take the Finance Division at least a month to issue a circular quantifying for each beneficiary basic salary and arrears under the new pay scale. That means the employees will be able to draw their increased salary from November.
Presumably, an ad hoc payment based on the increment accrued since July before Eid holidays may not be ruled out. If such an ad hoc payment in bulk is made to the public servants, it would likely have an effect of price hike in the Eid-ul-Azha cattle market. Interestingly, the Commerce Ministry, has creditably influenced this year’s Eid-ul-Azha cattle market prices to remain ‘within reach of average buyers’ by arranging with Indian authorities a “seasonal safe passage” of Indian and Nepalese cattle and goats traded across Indo-Bangladesh borders.
Pay scale details
This year’s novel arrangement of Eid sacrificial cattle trade, both for whole-sale and retail purchase and sales, is e-commerce in process. It may be possible for city dwellers to avoid traffic jam and road risks to book from on-line marketing web-sites to choose and buy their cattle and make arrangements for payment and delivery sitting at home. Similarly, it may be possible for cattle breeders in rural Bangladesh and cattle traders in border areas and ports to avoid chloroform party thugs (gang of thieves who offer drugged snacks to train or bus passengers to render them unconscious and rob them) and advertise their livestock online for sale.
Returning to the subject of the announced pay scale award, basic salary of civil servants will almost double under the new national pay scale with employees in the lower rungs getting the highest percentage of raise. In the highest grade, basic salary will rise by 95 percent to stand at Tk 78,000 (fixed), and in the lowest grade by 101 percent to become Tk 8,250. There are 20 grades.
Above the grade list the cabinet secretary, the principal secretary, the three armed services chiefs or those in equivalent posts will get Tk 86,000 (fixed) and a senior secretary (as well as army officers of the same status) will get Tk 82,000 (fixed).
Minimum basic salary has been fixed at Tk. 8,250.
In the new scale, a festival bonus for the Bangla New Year has been introduced. A new annual increment system has also been introduced. New extra bonus for the Bangla New Year in addition to other festival bonuses will be 20 percent of basic salary. The existing festival bonuses are religion-based and employees receive it at different times. The new bonus will be given for all at the same time.
New rule for increment
Under the existing scale, employees are offered these increments when they do not get promotion in due time. Large-scale corruption takes place before these increments are actually obtained by recipients and hence a new system has been introduced to check such irregularities. Under the new scale, for employees from the sixth to the 20th grade, the yearly increment will be five percent of the basic salary on incremental basis. In the fifth grade, it will rise by 4.5 percent, in the third and fourth grades by four percent and in the second grade by 3.75 percent.
Currently, an increment is given on the basis of an employee’s joining date and promotion. From now on, the increment will be given in July every year irrespective of one’s joining or promotion. The new bonus and the new system of increments will become effective from next July, i.e. beginning FY 2016-17. With the coming into effect of the new pay scale, the time scale and selection grade of the existing system will be scrapped as discriminatory.
This is the 8th national pay scale award. The 7th award was also made by the present Finance Minister AMA Muhith. The revision at that time was made to the national pay scale award of 2005. From rudimentary national reconstruction phase survival-level pay scale fixed after liberation in 1972, pay scale revisions have taken place in 1977, 1985, 1991, 1997, 2005, 2009 and now in 2015. The new pay scale chart compared to the existing one stands as follows:
Comparison of previous two pay scale charts of 2005 and 2009 are also given below:
Award prompts teachers’ protest
A new feature of the 7th national pay scale award, announced by Finance Minister AMA Muhith included: (i) a separate pay scale for the judicial service for the first time in view of the separation of judiciary (subordinate courts) from the executive during the period of the last caretaker government; (ii) commitment for a separate pay scale for the education sector next time; (iii) different scales of pay for nurses having diploma and degree background; and (iv) education allowance between Tk.200 and Tk.300 per month for children of public servants.
This time, a radical feature with implications for group psychology of public servants has been added. Announced by the Cabinet Secretary, Musharraf Hossain Bhuiyan, the 8th pay scale award abolished classification between government employees of different classes e.g. class one, class two, class three, and class four. Their identity will be determined henceforth by their grade. In matters of attesting photos or documents, an employee will be designated by his/her grade.
College and school teachers under MPO registration will also get salary from July 1 as per the new scale, subject to a separate review to determine who are eligible to get MPO as per the existing criteria. This may take six months and so the MPO registered and government-run school and college teacher are likely to receive enhanced salary six months after the pay hike for government employees is implemented.
Meanwhile, no decision has been made about the university teachers’ demand for salary increase.
As such the shine of rationalization of the national pay scale under the 8th award has been clouded by heated unrest amongst university and college teachers, who are already on the streets agitating for a separate pay scale, as was promised by the Finance Minister while announcing the 7th pay scale award.
FM’s comment and regrets
Teachers are arguing that they have been slighted by the new pay scale as they are being paid less than the Secretaries and Senior Secretaries. It is not about the pay only, but about their status and dignity. They say they have been discriminated against in the new pay scale although selection grade professors, secretaries, and major generals were on the same grade in the seventh pay scale.
The finance minister as usual made his response with a guffaw to the agitation of 37 public University teachers who abstained from work in protest:
“The most educated section of the country is demonstrating the lack of knowledge,” Muhith said, “They don’t know what the pay scale has for them.”
The Finance Minister also characterised the teachers as a corrupt lot apart from calling them ignorant, and terming the teachers’ movement as wrong: “We have to control the corrupt practices of the teachers.”
The teachers have now given an ultimatum to the Finance Minister to apologise within 24 hours, and demanded his resignation, threatening to go on strike sine die. Another big sessions jam in higher education is in the offing. What a farce! However, the Finance Minister at a press briefing Thursday regretted his comment.
Source: Weekly Holiday