Kerala on path to fiscal consolidation, will provide all benefits to employees: Minister Balagopal

Leader of Opposition in the state assembly VD Satheesan said a new pay commission's recommendations are to be implemented by 1 July.

ByPTI

Published Jun 20, 2024 | 12:01 PM Updated Jun 20, 2024 | 12:01 PM

Finance Minister KN Balagopal (X)

Kerala is on the path to fiscal consolidation and it will give all benefits to its employees, pensioners and teachers that they are entitled to, in accordance with the improvement in the financial situation, state Finance Minister KN Balagopal said on Wednesday, 19 June.

The submission was made in the state assembly by Balagopal in response to the Congress-led UDF allegation that the government was “cruelly neglecting” its employees, pensioners and teachers by denying them the benefits of various pay commission recommendations.

Leader of Opposition in the state assembly VD Satheesan said a new pay commission’s recommendations are to be implemented by 1 July.

“But the new pay commission has not even been appointed yet,” he said.

DA to be disbursed

Besides, arrears in accordance with the pay revision made five years ago have not been paid and the dearness allowance (DA) of 39 months remains to be disbursed, he claimed.

He also claimed that the government has a liability of ₹42,000 crore, which includes arrears of pay revision, leave surrender benefits for last five years as well as DA and dearness relief arrears.

Responding to the claims of the opposition leader, Balagopal said steps will be taken to release the dearness allowance and its arrears to government employees and teachers as soon as the economic situation of the state improves.

He further said that leave surrender benefits were not stopped, instead certain restrictions were placed on granting them between 2020-21 to 2024-25 in view of the financial crisis created due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“It has been announced that the pension reform arrears announced along with the salary revision will be paid in four installments. Three installments have been paid out of this. The third installment was given last March. Only the last installment of ₹600 crore is due,” the minister said.

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On Medisep scheme

Referring to the Medisep scheme, which provides comprehensive health insurance coverage to government employees, he said it was working well.

He was responding to Satheesan’s allegation that no critical diseases are covered under the scheme and good hospitals are not on Medisep’s list.

The opposition leader also alleged that the government was profiting from the scheme by taking a share of the premium paid by employees.

Rejecting the charges, Balagopal said 97 percent of the claims made under the scheme have been accepted and that the amount of claims allowed was more than the premium paid.

“Therefore, the opposition leader’s remark that the state government was profiting out of it was contrary to the facts. The government does not take even a single rupee from the premium collected from the employees,” he contended.

He claimed that there was no such scheme for state employees and pensioners anywhere else in the world.

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Financial stress due to natural calamities

Balagopal also said that Kerala was under financial stress due to natural calamities, demonetisation, changes in central tax allocation, reduction in tax allocation to the state as well as curtailing of its borrowing limit by the Centre.

“But, the government has been able to sustain itself despite these crises because of the record increase it has been able to achieve in its own revenue. The government had the best revenue growth in the state’s history.

“Figures, including those of the Reserve Bank and the Accountant General, show that Kerala is on the path to economic consolidation. Our public debt has also come down,” the minister noted.

“Our financial situation is getting better,” he added.

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