Central government staff and officers, along with their counterparts in defence and paramilitary forces, have a reason to paint the town red on Holi — the Sixth Central Pay Commission is set to hand them a hike of up to 52%, if read along with their house rent allowance (HRA).
The report is likely to be submitted to Finance Minister P Chidambaram by panel chairman Justice B N Srikrishna any day after the festival of colours, possibly as early as Tuesday.
Higher housing and transport allowances may be the icing on the cake, though there could be only a modest hike in city compensatory allowance.
Indications are that a secretary to the government will have a basic salary of Rs 80,000 a month (up from Rs 26,000 with 50% merged dearness pay and 47% DA).
The Cabinet Secretary, the country's seniormost officer, is likely to have a basic of Rs 90,000 (up from Rs 30,000 with 50% merged dearness pay and 47% DA).
As is the practice, the new scales would be effective from January 1, 2006.
The across-the-board hike could be paler compared to the pay commission's fifth edition (1997), the best bounty so far, as the proposed quantum of hike now is a few percentage points (just around 0.40) lower. But the good news is that a government employee could, sources said, now look forward to higher annual increments, besides the regular addition of DA, which is now an annual average of 12%.
There is, however, the possibility of a fresh rationalisation of DA rates (decided on the basis of consumer price index) because of the upward scaling of salaries.
The increase in city compensatory allowance (maximum Rs 300 at present) may also not be substantial. The bounty for senior officers, sources said, could have been more attractive had the President's monthly salary not been fixed at Rs 1 lakh recently.
As expected, the commission may slash the number of scales to 18 from the present 33, to facilitate accounting and uniformity across various employees and officers.
A likely implication for senior officers in A1 cities (Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata, Chennai, Bangalore and Hyderabad) could be that government accommodation might not seem as attractive as before because their HRA may rise substantially.
At the minimum entry level (Group 'D'), a government employee is likely to get Rs 8,000 now while the highest starting pay in non-gazetted grade (Group 'C') could be Rs 20,000.
The expected starting pay for gazetted Group 'A' and Group 'B' officers could be Rs 26,000 and Rs 22,000 respectively.
Pay at the highest government (secretary) level is likely to be Rs 80,000. At present, a Group 'A' officer gets around Rs 18,000 at entry (12% HRA in A1 cities is extra). These scales would have higher annual increments.