Coronavirus: Kerala Cabinet approves salary challenge amid financial crisis

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THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: The state cabinet has given approval to go ahead with salary challenge announced in the state in the wake of the deteriorating financial situation. The salary challenge aims to donate one month’s salary of government employees to the chief minister’s distress relief fund (CMDRF) to mobilise funds to the tune of Rs 2000 crore in view of the financial crisis facing the exchequer.

The state government has already reached out to the service organisations in the state with this demand and follow-up steps would be taken based on the response of the employees, the meeting decided. It is not clear whether all category of government employees should donate a month’s salary to the CMDRF. The meeting also directed all the ministers to donate a sum of Rs 1 lakhs to the CMDRF.

Various ministers including chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan, Speaker P Sreeramakrishnan, Industries Minister EP Jayarajan, Tourism Minister Kadkamapally Surendran etc have donated their one month salary to the CMDRF.

There are also plans to reduce the salary of employees who do not take part in the salary challenge like many other states did. This is aimed at ensuring the wholehearted participation of all government employees here.

Though the government has taken a decision in this regard which was approved by the cabinet, a formal order would be issued only after scrutinising legal side of the issue. Last time, when the salary challenge was announced following the 2018 megaflood, the government decision was challenged in the High Court.

Hence the Cabinet has decided to look into the legal aspects of the issue before issuing a formal order. In 2018, around 40 per cent of the government employees abstained from the salary challenge. The meeting of service organisations chaired by the chief minister on Monday decided to join hands with initiative.

Faced with the precarious economic situation owing to the impact of the spread of coronavirus, Telangana, Andhra Pradesh, and Maharashtra governments have already announced salary cut of staff at different levels, including the elected representatives.

Meanwhile, the Cabinet has reviewed the situation in the state and the state is of the view that the situation is under control, but the restrictions should be continued, the meeting decided.

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