Cabinet to announce sops before model code imposition

Apparently to beat the Election Commission of India’s model code of conduct, applicable once poll dates are announced next week, the Union cabinet's Friday meeting is packed with agendas.

Many of them are aimed at deriving political dividend, including sops to government employees with a 10 per cent hike in dearness allowance and setting terms of references to the 7th Pay Commission.

Dubbed as the last cabinet of the outgoing UPA government, as the government can take policy decisions only before the poll code comes into force, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and his colleagues will also discuss the Vodafone tax row and promulgating ordinances to give life to 11 bills including some anti-corruption legislations dear to Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi.

The cabinet is likely to approve hiking dearness allowance to 100 per cent from the existing 90 per cent, which would be the second double digit DA hike in a row. The government had announced a hike of 10 per cent in September last year, effective from July 1, 2013. The proposed hike in DA would be effective from January 1 this year.

The government is also expected to finalise terms of reference of the 7th Pay Commission.

It had already approved composition of the commission for revision of salaries of Central government employees. Both decisions will benefit 50 lakh central government employees and 30 lakh pensioners.

With an indication that the Election Commission is likely to announce poll dates early next week, the government is also in a hurry to bring ordinances for some bills which it failed to pass in the recently-concluded Parliament session.

The Political Affairs Committee headed by the prime minister on Wednesday also decided to request the President to prorogue Parliament, so that he can sign the ordinances. Unless a Presidential notification about Parliament being prorogued is issued, no ordinance can be issued.

The bills dear to Rahul Gandhi include the Right of Citizens for Time Bound Delivery of Goods and Services and Redressal of their Grievances Bill, Prevention of Corruption (Amendment) Bill and the Public Procurement Bill, 2012, Prevention of Bribery of Foreign Public Officials and Officials of Public International Organisations Bill and the Whistleblower Bill.

Other bills lined for the ordinance route are the SEBI (Amendment) Bill, 2013, Indian Medical Council Bill, Readjustment of Representation of Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes in Parliamentary and Assembly Constituencies Bill, 2013, Disabilities Rights Bill and a bill seeking to increase the financial jurisdiction of the Delhi High Court from Rs 20 lakh to Rs 2 crore by amending the Delhi High Court Act, 1966, amendment to the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Bill.  

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