Over 3.5 lakh state government employees and 2.5 lakh pensioners in Punjab have upped their ante against the cash-strapped Punjab government to claim four instalments of their dearness allowance (DA)and arrears.
The government owes them around Rs 3,500 crore. There is also little hope for the Sixth Pay Commission, set up in February 2016, to give its recommendations to the government this year, leading to employees getting restive. Setting the ball rolling for the agitation, the employees on Tuesday held protests in the Punjab Civil Secretariat and Sector 17.
Officials in the state Finance Department said that they were trying to rein in the expenditure, and at least the tax revenue was looking up. The financial indicators of the first two quarters (April-September) showed that tax revenue this year was 35.50 per cent of the total targeted receipts (Rs 18990.04 crore), while non-tax revenue was just 20.89 per cent of the targeted receipts for this year (Rs 2140.48 crore), which was a cause for concern.
Former Finance Minister Parminder Singh Dhindsa said he had twice put a question in the previous two sessions of the Vidhan Sabha, seeking to know when the DA and arrears would be released. “The government is so non-serious about the issue that neither have they listed my question, nor sent me a reply,” he rued.