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Amid covid struggle, TN pays Rs 10,000 a month as servant allowance to retired top officials

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NEW DELHI: The Tamil Nadu government is learnt to have decided to enhance retirement benefits for top-level officials at a time when the Covid impact has been forcing most states to tighten their finances, with many of them holding back the dearness allowances of government servants and pushing back pension grants.

The Tamil Nadu government is learnt to have permitted an additional ‘servant allowances’ of Rs 10,000 per month to all retired chief secretaries and additional chief secretaries, citing petitions made since 2015 from the state IAS Officers Association and leading bureaucrats.

The state’s chief secretary has, in a communication dated 22.07.2020 to all retired chief secretaries and retired additional chief secretaries, said that they will be permitted to engage one Nominal Muster Roll (NMR) –– labour at daily wages –– at`10,000 per month through the Public Works Department, similar to the facility extended to retired high court judges.

It was only in May that the state government had increased the retirement age for government servants from 58 to 59, arguably to postpone the huge pension burden it would otherwise have to face this year. The move also comes months before Chief Secretary K Shanmugam, who has recently been given a threemonth extension, is set to retire.

The July 23 order which permits the new benefits, cites representations received from the former president of the TN IAS Association PWC Davidar, besides other senior state officials, including former civil aviation secretary and UPSC member RN Choubey and R Kannan.

When contacted, Davidar told ET: “This was among the many suggestions from retired officials which we as the IAS association had taken to the government, in 2018. Several other states have also done the same.” UPSC member RN Choubey said he had written two year back, drawing the government’s attention to “discriminatory postretirement practices”.

It is gathered that the Tamil Nadu IAS Association and senior IAS officers had cited a similar order passed by Karnataka. Karnataka had, in 2015, made the first such move with an order allowing chief secretaries and additional chief secretaries a servant allowance of Rs 6,000, telephone charges of `1,000 and medical reimbursements over and above the pension and other benefits given under the All India Service Rules.

The first representation seeking the same in Tamil Nadu was made by former additional chief secretary Sitharam Gurumurthi in 2015 and was followed up by many others. However, there is little other precedent across other states.

Senior IAS officials told ET that while a state government is well within its rights to do so, it is not in keeping with the usual norms. “At a time like this when budget cuts are being effected and even salary payments and pension release are becoming difficult, it is odd to extend such a benefit to retired officials.

It is hardly the practice across states and generally would not be seen as in sync with the spirit of the all India service rules,” a senior official told ET on condition of anonymity.

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