The finance minister has made an attempt to assuage the feeling of those opposing the eighth national pay scale, saying the prime minister had given instructions not to curtail anyone’s facilities.
Abul Maal Abdul Muhith told reporters this after a meeting of the Cabinet committee formed to resolve salary discrepancies at the Secretariat on Sunday.
The committee was formed in face of an agitation by public university teachers, protesting against the new pay scale approved by the Cabinet a few months ago.
“I am constantly in touch with the prime minister and discussed several issues with her before this meeting,” he said after his talks with seven ministers and five secretaries.
“The prime minister has sent her directive and it says that existing privileges cannot be curtailed. Betterment must be done by protecting the current facilities.”
The government had no intention to cut current scope and facilities, he stressed.
He said neither the Pay Commission nor the Cabinet had suggested any curtailment of the facilities in the pay scale being enjoyed by various cadres, and the gazette, which is underway, also would not do it.
Public university teachers and government employees at various levels have been complaining of the abolition of the time scale and dilution of authority at different grades.
The finance minister said he had been getting complaints from ProKriChi (a body of technologists, agriculturists and doctors), the university teachers’ association, the BCS teachers’ association, and 26 associations of cadres.
“These organisations have raised a number of objections. They have met several ministers and secretaries. Everyone wants a positive solution to the issues at stake.”
But he said such a solution would be impossible to offer in a day, adding that it could take another two to three days.
He again rebutted the claim by the university and BCS teachers’ associations that their facilities were being curtailed.
The abolishment of the time scale and selection-grade had given rise to the apprehension, he said, but assured them that “they would be promoted on the basis of the time scale and selection-grade”.
“I am not bringing back time scale. Instead, when you put in a certain period of service, you will get automatic [lift].
“A person working for 10 years will move to the next grade in the 11th year. He will get to the grade above that, if he works for another six years. This is the best way to increase everyone’s opportunity.”
He admitted there was pay disparity between a headmaster and assistant teachers of a primary school.
“We don’t want to have such disparity. A solution has to be found. There are a few small issues that will take two or three days to sort out.”
Muhith said, “We expect to send the directive (the gazette from the Pay Commission) to the law ministry this week. After being vetted by the law ministry it will have to be approved by the prime minister or the Cabinet.”
The new decisions will be implemented after the publication of the gazette on the new pay scale. Until then, everything will keep to the earlier rules, he added.
“Our (gazette) will be become effective the day it is published. And nothing that is done before will be revoked.”
The most-discussed issue in Sunday’s meeting was the considerable hike in salaries and allowances, he said.
“We feel the scale being given is very good. It will help everyone live comfortably.”
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina had ensured in 2013 that every cadre reached Grade-I. Earlier, only six-seven cadres could reach that level and most ended their career at Grade II, he said.
The finance minister took no question from the gathered journalists.
Industries Minister Amir Hossain Amu, Commerce Minister Tofail Ahmed, Education Minister Nurul Islam Nahid, Law Minister Anisul Huq, State Minister for Finance MA Mannan and State Minister for Public Administration Ismat Ara Sadique attended the meeting.
Cabinet Secretary Mohammad Shafiul Alam and other secretaries who are members of the Cabinet committee were also present.