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Punjab

Call on ₹25k HRA to CM’s secys today 4 Secretaries (3 Political, 1 Press) Draw Monthly Salary Of ₹1.25 Lakh Each

January 02, 2019 06:13 AM

COURTESY  TOI JAN 2

Call on ₹25k HRA to CM’s secys today
4 Secretaries (3 Political, 1 Press) Draw Monthly Salary Of ₹1.25 Lakh Each
Sanjeev.Verma@timesgroup.com

Chandigarh:

The Punjab government is planning to increase the pay of one press and three political secretaries to chief minister Amarinder Singh. The cabinet would take a call on Wednesday on granting house rent allowance (HRA) to the secretaries.


The proposal will be tabled even though the state government is in self-imposed austerity mode, citing poor financial health.

Captain Sandeep Sandhu, Major Amardeep Singh and Gurmehar Sekhon serve as political secretaries to the CM. Vimal Sumbly is the press secretary. Apart from entitlement to an official car, staff and telephone facilities, these secretaries draw a fixed salary of Rs 1.25 lakh per month. Once the council of ministers approves the proposal, these secretaries would be entitled to an HRA of Rs 25,000 per month, which is 20% of their monthly salary.

Though chief minister’s other advisers have been already entitled to an official accommodation since they enjoy the rank of a cabinet minister or minister of state, the four secretaries were neither given the official accommodation nor the HRA. Amarinder’s senior adviser Lt Gen T S Shergill (retd) has the status of a cabinet minister. His adviser Bharat Inder Singh Chahal, media adviser Raveen Thukral and financial adviser V K Garg have been appointed at the rank of minister of state.

It was on November 16 that one of the three political secretaries, Karanpal Singh Sekhon (62), passed away at a military hospital in Egypt due to a cardiac arrest. On November 26, the state government had appointed Sekhon’s son, Gurmehar, as political secretary.

From Day 1, Capt Amarinder has been under fire from the opposition for employing an army of advisers and officers on special duty (OSDs), who were drawing more salaries than the ministers. He has 14 advisers and eight OSDs to help him rule, and all of them are entitled to various perks and benefits. Opposition parties have repeatedly attacked the CM over the issue. When the state assembly’s business committee had in the last session proposed to bring in a bill to raise MLAs’ salaries to Rs 3 lakh, the Shiromani Akali Dal, AAP and Lof Insaf Party had denounced the move, pointing out that the state was under a debt of over Rs 2 lakh crore and the Congress had promised a leaner government to keep its expenditures under control.

Punjab parliamentary affairs minister Brahm Mohindra had justified the proposal, stating that legislators of other states were drawing more salaries as compared to those of Punjab. But the proposal was put on hold after it came under sharp criticism.

 

 
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