Gilgit-Baltistan: Special Allowance for GB Employees Restored

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GILGIT (ET): Employees of Gilgit-Baltistan’s (G-B) government ended the boycott of their duties on Saturday after Chief Minister Mehdi Shah announced the restoration of a 25% special allowance revoked earlier.

“On the instructions of Mehdi Shah, G-B chief secretary has issued directives to concerned officials to restore the allowance,” stated a press release issued by the chief minister’s office on Friday night. “We will not allow injustice to be done to anybody,” Shah was quoted as saying in the handout.

The much welcome announcement spread jubilation, as employees congratulated each other and offered sweets to celebrate. “We are thankful the government took the case of poor employees seriously and on humanitarian grounds,” All Employees Association President Bahadur Khan said on Saturday.

Upon the directives of the federal ministry of finance, the G-B finance department issued a notification in the first week of June stating special allowances given to G-B’s government employees would be declared null and void from 2011. The notification also asked authorities to recover the amount paid under the allowance since the said year.

This stirred outrage as employees lashed out at the government’s decision, saying they could not possibly return the thousands of rupees they had received.

On Wednesday, G-B All Employees Association, a representative body of 37,000 local employees in the region’s seven districts, announced a boycott of their duties. As a result, doctors and teachers also remained absent from schools and hospitals.

The special allowance was first awarded to G-B employees by former military dictator General Ziaul Haq, in view of the hard conditions prevailing in the mountainous region. Although the allowance was temporarily suspended in 2011, it resumed after the G-B Supreme Appellate Court ruled in its favor.

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