The Manmohan Singh government’s announcement of a four-member Seventh Pay Commission for government employees headed by former Supreme Court judge Justice Ashok Kumar Mathur is clearly a sop for this huge vote bank on the eve of the next general elections. Considering that the sixth Pay Commission had been appointed in October 2006 the government could well have left it to the next government to appoint a new pay panel. The Eleventh Finance Commission had categorically said that pay commissions need not be set up routinely as their awards had a cascading effect on the finances of state governments. Evidently, however, the UPA wanted to earn some brownie points and thought it expedient not to leave it to the next government to set it up and walk away with the honours. It did not think a pay panel is a major drain on the exchequer. The commission is slated to submit its report in 19 months and recommendations will be effective from January 2016.
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