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Thursday, 4 September 2008

From Today's Papers - 04 Sep

Services’ whine about raw deal over pay hike unjustified?

4 Sep 2008, 0410 hrs IST,TNN

NEW DELHI: In order to bring parity between paramilitary forces and the defence personnel, the government is working out special allowances on the line of Military Service Pay (MSP) for armed forces. Contrary to the general perception that armed forces personnel got a raw deal in the sixth pay commission, a senior finance ministry official claimed that the net salary hike of a defence personnel was more than that of a civilian officer, of the same rank.
The armed forces personnel below officer rank will get a military service pay (MSP) of Rs 2,000 per month, which is Rs 1,000 more than what was recommended by the commission in its original report.
Officers of the defence forces will get an MSP of Rs 6,000, over and above their salary. Because of the MSP, the salary of Lt Colonel will jump from Rs 28,086 as on December 2005 to Rs 45,000 as on September, 2008. As the MSP will not be given from retrospective effect, its impact will be realised from September 2008. As against this, the salary of corresponding civilian officer of pay band 3 will go up to only Rs 32,694.
The officer pointed out that the MSP Rs 6,000 is basically part of the salary, and the personnel will also get dearness allowances on that. Because of this, the the actual MSP that the defence forces will get will be Rs 6,960 from September, including 16% DA. Similarly, a Colonel’s salary increased from Rs 33,480, as on December 2005, to Rs 57,609 because of the MSP. But, the salary of a civilian officer of the same pay band has not increased to that extent.
On line of the MSP, the government is also considering to offer similar allowances to personnel of paramilitary forces like CRPF, ITBP and BSF. As these forces also have to work in adverse conditions, the government is considering extending them similar allowances.
However, the quantum of allowances will be less than MSP, said the source.

Govt puts payout of arrears on fast track
4 Sep 2008, 0400 hrs IST, Ashish Sinha ,TNN
NEW DELHI: To expedite the payment of salary arrears to lakhs of its employees after implementation of the Sixth Pay Commission's report, the government has waived any “pre-check” of the claims they would be submitting.

This has been done to ensure that arrears are cleared at the earliest when the salary for September is paid to employees on the last working day of the month.
The employees would, however, be required to furnish an undertaking so that the government can later deduct any excess payment made to them due to any miscalculation.
Usually, the drawing and disbursement officer in a government office is supposed to verify the salary and arrear bills of every employee but the one-time exception will save the accounts section the additional burden. It will, however, work out the details of
the dues later.
After the new salaries were notified on August 29, the government came out with a detailed “ready reckoner” that took into account each earlier pay scale and the corresponding change in it.
“The calculation of new salary has become easy but some error may occur while calculating the arrears because increments are involved. It is good that the pre-check requirement has been dispensed with,” an officer said.
Although the employees will have to pay income tax on the arrears, most of them are now busy calculating their dues. Only 40% of the arrears are to be paid during the current fiscal and the remaining 60% will be disbursed in 2009-10. The employees have the option to deposit the arrears in their GPF accounts after deduction of tax. For the payment of the hiked salaries, the employees have been asked to submit a statement of fixation of pay after tallying it with the ready reckoner.
The buzz in government offices is also on a possible “anomaly” in the new scales. The pay band system, officers said, is likely to dilute the motivation for promotion because an employee's salary will, anyway, go on increasing annually.
Under the new rules, there are only four pay bands for all employees and officers with assured annual increments. As a result, a large number of employees, despite their in-cadre seniority, would be placed in the same pay band for a considerable period.
“The financial premium on promotions will certainly get diluted. We need to see what impact the new system has on the motivation levels of employees,” a director dealing with accounts said.

Pay Hike Finance ministry versus armed forces
Ajay Banerjee
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, September 3
Serious differences have cropped up between the ministry of finance and the armed forces over the pay and allowances given to officers of the armed forces by the Sixth Pay Commission.

A day after the three service chiefs said the pay commission should not be implemented till the anomalies are sorted out, sources in the finance ministry today said “facts” about the parity of the armed forces officers with civilian officers will be placed before the right quarters.

Officials in the finance ministry believe that the armed forces will get “far greater financial benefits” than their civilian counterparts.

Sources in the forces said this is all wrong projection. A comparison should be made between the same ranks in the armed forces and the civil administration.

The same ranks of the previous pay commission should be equated and the difference will be evident, said an officer.

Now the status of the armed forces has been lowered and a comparison is being made with civil ranks that were anyway lower than each rank of the forces that has been placed in a lower pay band than the previous pay commission.

The finance ministry has prepared it own data to counter the claim of the three chiefs. This includes aspects like military service pay that is calculated when the dearness allowance is given.

Allowances like Siachen allowance have been doubled from Rs 7,000 to Rs 14,000. The high-altitude allowance has been doubled from Rs 4,000 to Rs 8,000.

The ministry is also collecting figures to show that 60 per cent of the expenditure during this financial year for the increased wages will go to the armed forces.

The armed forces point out that earlier the rank of Lieut Colonel was equal to an IAS cadre director drawing an equal salary.

When compared with a non-IAS director rank official, a Lieut Colonel was getting more salary.

Now a Lieut Colonel will get Rs 14,000 less than his IAS counterpart and Rs 11,000 less than the non-IAS counterpart.

When the pay commission was announced, the armed forces had represented this anomaly to the Committee of Secretaries (CoS).

The CoS had agreed to the demand to an increase in grade pay across the
middle-rank officers but also increased the grade pay of civil servants, thereby
retaining the disparity.

The new category of Higher administrative grade (HAG) includes all DGs and DGPs. The services have demanded that all officers of the rank of Lieut General be included in this category.

In the Fourth Pay Commission a Lieut General was ahead of the DGP. In the last pay commission they were on a par and in the latest one the DGP has been put ahead.

China's defence spending growing, but U.S. still easily tops all countries

9 hours ago

LONDON — China may be a growing military giant, but a leading analyst says the United States still dwarfs all other countries in terms of military spending.

Jane's Information Group says U.S. defence spending of just under $700 billion a year is almost nine times that of the next-biggest spender, Britain, which sports a defence budget of $79.27 billion.

France is the third-biggest military spender at $65.74 billion.

A report compiled last month for Jane's Industry Quarterly said China currently ranks fourth in defence spending, with a budget of $58 billion in 2008.

But Jane's expects that will grow massively to $360 billion by 2020, if current increases continue.

The report identifies Russia and India as other fast-growing defence spenders, although Russia is currently ranked eight overall at $36 billion and India 11th at over $27 billion.

"In Western Europe we're all pretty flat in terms of our spending," said Matt Smith, a defence economics analyst at Jane's. "It would take a long, long time to even come close to what the U.S. is spending."

China's growth is "the longest and most sustained," Smith said.

The report says China is likely to become a major exporter of military equipment, as a combination of rapidly improving technology, low costs and geopolitical factors make it more attractive to buyers, especially in Africa.

"China has a well-documented interest in Africa's resource wealth and has been vigorous in its cultivation of economic ties," the report said.

"Recent shipments of arms to Sudan and Zimbabwe have also demonstrated China's clear willingness to conduct business with regimes other suppliers will not," it adds.

Smith said Russia's military budget "took an enormous hit in the 1990s," but has been built back up, thanks to revenues from the country's booming oil and natural gas industries.

The report predicts a fall in Russia military exports by 2010 as its traditional markets, China and India, try to become more self-sufficient.

Indian AF Buys Spyder Air-Defense Missiles
By vivek raghuvanshi
Published: 2 Sep 12:39 EDT (16:39 GMT)
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NEW DELHI - Israeli company Rafael has been awarded a $260 million contract by the Indian Air Force for 18 Spyder Low Level Quick Reaction Missiles (LLQRM). The contract was inked Sept. 1, a senior Indian Defence Ministry official said.

Rafael was shortlisted to supply the missiles against France's MBDA early last year. However, the contract was delayed, mainly due to opposition from India's leftist parties, Defence Ministry sources said.
The deliveries of the Spyder missiles will begin in 2½ years and be completed within four, the ministry official said.

The contract will not include any mandatory defense offsets, the official said.

The Israeli-developed Spyder system is based on Rafael's Python 5 passive infrared and Derby active radar-guided air-to-air missiles, with an effective range of 15 kilometers. The system uses an Elta search radar, an Indian Air Force official said. The system is built as a quick-reaction surface-to-air missile defense system against aircraft, UAVs, and even precision-guided missiles, according to the makers.

The request for proposals was sent in mid-2005 to France, Israel, Poland, Russia, South Africa, Switzerland and the United Kingdom.

India began looking to foreign firms after the Trishul LLQRM system developed by its state-owned Defence Research and Development Organization was rejected by the Army, Navy and Air Force.

God only knows! — 2

The TOI reports that-

Rattled by the stand of the armed forces that implementation of the Sixth Pay Commission for them be “withheld” till their parity with civilian and paramilitary counterparts is restored, the government has promised to look into the issue on “a fast-track basis”.

The more interesting bit comes from the Indian Express. It devotes its lead editorial to the subject and lambasts the service chiefs for demanding that the pay hike for officers be put on hold.

There are a hundred jokes in the services about how difficult it is to get the army, navy and air force to agree on anything. For the leaders of the three uniformed branches to join each other in writing to their civilian superior, one would think that something of earth-shattering import needed to be addressed. On discovering what it is, however, all notions of what the three service chiefs consider an earth-shattering crisis might need to be revised. In essence, the chiefs are upset that senior ranks in the armed forces are not being paid an amount commensurate with what they believe equivalent ranks in the IAS receive. (The pay commission held sharply differing, and more rational, views on what constituted an equivalent rank.)

The armed services do indeed see a steady leaking of talent. However, so do other services. The problem is that by grounding their complaint in a spurious comparison to the IAS and the IPS rather than as a reasoned exposition — using labour market analysis — of how higher pay might stop that leakage, the armed forces come off as depressingly petty and bureaucratic. Senior soldiers obsessing over points of order and the order of precedence is not going to help that leakage; worldwide, what keeps soldiers in uniform is not parity with civilian administrators but a sense that for what they do they receive recognition of a unique order, and that the uniform itself ensures they will receive a certain dignity and respect. When the seniormost of those wearing that uniform write letters of the sort that the defence minister just received, that hope receives a small jolt.

It is easy to debate the opinion of the Indian Express or punch holes in its arguments. But that is to miss the larger point altogether. Services have, in their naivety, committed a folly by bringing into the media the demands raised by their chiefs. While this was ostensibly done to get more traction for the demands and put the government under pressure, it also serves another purpose - of communicating to service officers that the service chiefs are trying their level best to get them a better (and a more fair) deal.

As with any message and especially while dealing with the mainstream media, the optics created by the message are equally important. This is the real damage. Till date, the service chiefs were immune from scathing criticism from the mainstream media and it was largely believed that the services were being unfairly treated by the politico-bureaucratic nexus. That shield is gone now and the service chiefs (and the services in general) will find it very difficult when they are subjected to the same level of scrutiny and insinuation in the mainstream media as any other “civilian” politician or bureaucrat is. As the Indian Express puts it, that “dignity and respect” is gone. The consequences of this will be seen in the long run, when the image of the services takes an even greater hit.

However, the services may have unintendedly done the right thing. The holy cow image of the services should have been broken a long time ago in a democracy. Leaving aside the SCPC, this protection from the media has allowed the services to get away with murder in many other fields of their functioning, whether it be their HR policies (recruiting, promotion, exit etc.) or a long-term jointness vision for the three services. This kind of scrutiny and inquisition by the media in many other fields of the functioning of the services may eventually lead to the much needed overall reform and restructuring of the Indian defence services.

Will it happen? GOK!

But it says Russia may find growth in countries - largely in Africa, Southeast Asia and Latin America - that bought its tanks and armoured vehicles in Soviet times.

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