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Package fails to mollify PACS staff

By B. Chandrashekhar

ANANTAPUR, MARCH 27. With a view to settling the issue of pay and allowances to paid secretaries of Primary Agriculture Cooperative Credit Societies (PACS) functioning as subsidiaries to District Cooperative Central Banks (DCCBs), the State Government has announced several relaxations. However, the paid secretaries have refused the Government offer and moved the High Court again seeking `fair' settlement of their pay and allowances. But, the DCCBs are hopeful that the relaxations announced would definitely help in improvement of PACS' functioning making them viable.

There are allegations that irregularities committed by paid secretaries in connivance with PACS chairpersons have made majority of the cooperative credit bodies sick. A farmer of Rapthadu mandal alleged that extending the sops to farmers mostly depended on paid secretaries at the ground level. A majority of paid secretaries of the PACSs in the State were appointed in 1979 under the half-million jobs scheme. The issue over fixation of their pay and allowances has been simmering since 1992. The paid secretaries and clerks of PACS have been demanding fixation of their scales on a par with supervisors and clerks working in DCCBs.

The State Government had issued a GO in 1992 equating their pay scales with those of DCCB staff. But as the PACS had become unviable the State Government had cancelled the pay scales later as part of the reforms. However, the PACS employees moved the High Court and secured a stay on the Government move. Finally, the court had given verdict that the paid secretaries were not eligible to draw the salaries on a par with supervisors of DCCBs.

Later, when the Section 116 C(i) of AP Cooperative Societies Act, 1995, was implemented in 2002 a ceiling was fixed that the pay and allowances of PACS staff should not exceed either 2 per cent of the working capital or 30 per cent of gross profit, whichever is less.

When PACS staff resented it, the Government issued another GO (No. 308) allowing paid secretaries to take a salary advance of Rs. 3,500 per month till the issue of their pay was finalised. When the staff protested against the Government issued Go No. 94 in February this year hiking the ceiling limits for payment of salaries.

Accordingly, the paid secretaries can draw a maximum of Rs. 5,800 per month, for the societies where the transaction are more than Rs. 2 crores. The paid secretaries have also been entitled to claim a maximum of 1.5 per cent incentives on more than 75 per cent recoveries. There 509 employees in 212 PACS in Anantapur district working as paid secretaries, clerks and attenders. As per the fresh GO they are overstaffed by about 80. The excess staff have been asked to work for recoveries. Besides, the Government has also allowed PACS to utilise their margin of 2 per cent on loans being extended to farmers. They have been allowed to use 75 per of their margin from recoveries for establishment and the remaining 25 per cent for contingencies.

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