Govt employees, pensioners get 6% DA hike

As a Holi gift, the government has announced the additional installment of dearness allowance (DA) to Central government employees and dearness relief (DR) to pensioners with effect from January 1, 2016. This represents an increase of 6 per cent over the existing rate of 119 per cent of the basic pay/pension to compensate for price rise, said an official press release.

The Cabinet, chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, approved the hike on Wednesday. This will benefit about 50 lakh government employees and 58 lakh pensioners. The increase is in accordance with the accepted formula, which is based on the recommendations of the 6th Central Pay Commission. The combined impact on the exchequer on account of both DA and DR would be of Rs 6,796.5 crore per annum and Rs 7,929.24 crore, respectively, for a period of 14 months from January 2016 to February 2017.

The Cabinet also cleared the implementation of the rural housing scheme, Pradhan Mantri Awaas Yojana (Gramin). Under the scheme, financial assistance is provided for construction of pucca house to all houseless and households living in dilapidated houses.

The expenditure involved in implementing the project in a span of three years from 2016-17 to 2018-19 is Rs 81,975 crore. It is proposed that one crore households would be provided assistance for construction of pucca house under the project during the period from 2016-17 to 2018-19. The scheme would be implemented in rural areas throughout India except Delhi and Chandigarh. The cost of houses would be shared between the Centre and states.

In another decision, the Cabinet gave its ex-post-facto approval for a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between India and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) signed on February 11, 2016, to mobilize long-term investment into the National Investment & Infrastructure Fund (NIIF).

The objective of NIIF is to maximize economic impact mainly through infrastructure development in commercially viable projects, both greenfield and brownfield, including stalled projects. The NIIF would solicit equity participation from strategic anchor partners.

The Cabinet approved the creation of the NIIF in July 2015. It has already been established as a Category II Alternate Investment Funds (AIF) as per the regulations of the Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI).

The joint India-UAE statement during the Prime Minister’s visit to the UAE on August 16-17, 2015, mentions the establishment of the fund, with the aim of reaching a target of $75 billion to support investment in India’s plans for rapid expansion of next-generation infrastructure, especially in railways, ports, roads, airports, and industrial corridors and parks.

Other Cabinet decisions included approval with regard to holding of Under-17 World Cup Football in India in 2017 and transfer of 89.72-hectare land in Sector 25, Dwarka, New Delhi, to the Department of Industrial Policy & Promotion for the creation of a state-of-the-art exhibition-cum-convention centre.