Since May 2020, the employees of the Kerala government have been receiving reduced salaries on account of the six days’ salary deduction made every month, to handle the financial pressure brought on by the lockdown and all the pandemic-related expenses. On September 16, the Cabinet announced a repayment plan — the money will be transferred to the provident fund accounts of all government staff. However, salaries will continue to be deferred for another six months.
In an effort to reduce expenditure, it was also decided that no government buildings will be renovated and no furniture or vehicles will be bought for offices and institutions for a year.
The deducted amount will be put into the PF account in April 2021, because repaying in cash will result in an immediate liability of over Rs 2,000 crore.
The salary deduction was initiated via the Kerala Disaster and Public Health Emergency Special Provisions ordinance, according to which the state government could defer the payment of up to 25 per cent of an employee’s salary, in case of a natural disaster or pandemic. The ordinance also stated that the government was bound to come up with a repayment plan and time six months post the deduction.
The ordinance was in response to the Kerala High Court’s staying of the order that demanded employees contribute mandatorily towards the Chief Minister’s Distress Relief Fund. The order was to cut six days’ salary from each employee for a five-month period, so that all employees ended up contributing a month’s salary to the Relief Fund.