Senior Congress leader and former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has hist out at the Centre's recent move to freeze dearness allowance hike of central government employees for 18 months.
The Congress party released a video on Saturday where Singh and other senior party leaders were seen discussing the Centre's move on a video call. Former party chief Rahul Gandhi, Jayram Ramesh, KC Venugopal, and former finance minister P Chidambaram were some of the other leaders who participated in the discussion.
Singh said he believes that it is unnecessary to impose such a hardship on the government servants and the armed forces people, while Chidambaram said programs like the Bullet train should be halted instead of hating people's dearness allowance.
The Ministry of Finance on April 23 announced its decision on the Dearness Allowance (DA) of amid the coronavirus pandemic. However, the DA and Dearness Relief will continue to be paid at the current rates. The freeze will be applicable from January 2020 till June 2021, the government said. It was further stated that if the states follow the Centre's example, the combined savings will be ₹1.20 lakh crore, which will help in the fight against the coronavirus outbreak.
Dearness allowance is an adjustment given to employees to compensate for the increase in the cost of living because of inflation. It is revised twice a year, on January 1 and July 1.
"There is a need for a major increase in the expenditure on health as well as on welfare measures for various affected sections of the society including the poor and the vulnerable," the government notice read.
"In this background, the government has decided to freeze the Dearness Allowance to Central Government employees and Dearness Relief to pensioners for the instalments between 1st January 2020 and 1st July 2021. The rate of DA and DR will be restored from 1st July 2021 with prospective effect. The existing level of Dearness Allowance and Dearness Relief will continue to be paid to all employees/pensioners," the notice further read.
Earlier in the day, Rahul Gandhi raised questions about the decision called the move as "inhuman and insensitive decision". He reminded the government crores of rupees could be recouped by suspending the ambitious bullet train project and the Central Vista beautification scheme.
"It is an insensitive and inhumane decision of the government to cut DA (Dearness Allowance) of central employees, pensioners and soldiers serving the public while battling coronavirus, instead of suspending the multi-million crore bullet train project and the Central Vista beautification project," Rahul Gandhi tweeted.
The government had justified the necessity of the freeze and had said that there had been major increases in expenditure on health as well as welfare measures for those affected by the outbreak.
PM Modi had announced earlier that he would take a 30 per cent pay cut, along with central ministers and other MPs.
In addition to money spent on boosting health infrastructure, the purchase of testing kits and that of protective equipment from China and other countries, the government has also announced a ₹1.75 lakh crore scheme to help migrants and poorer sections of the society.
According to an NDTV report, a separate financial package for the economy is also being devised cabinet ministers have said.
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