Pradeep Singh

At a time when the Central government employees are expecting a hike in Dearness Allowance (DA) as per the 7th Pay Commission recommendations, the rise in COVID-19 cases across the country has once again brought around an ambiguous situation.

Though expectations are still there that the centre will unfreeze the DA and announce it for the July-December 2020 period, some believe that the surge in COVID cases might pose a hindrance in the same.

The central government employees are presently getting DA at 17 per cent rate and it will continue till July 2021 (as per the government's earlier decision while freezing the DA last year). Once unfreezed, the hike in DA and Dearness Relief (DR) will benefit over 48 lakh employees and over 65 lakh pensioners.

"The Centre had freezed the DA to mitigate the crisis due to the pandemic but the current surge in the coronavirus cases has once again created an ambiguous situation. Though it is expected that we will get the freezed DA, taking the allowance to 21 per cent, not sure whether the government will announce DA for the July-December 2020 period," said a government employee.

It is worth mentioning that the Centre had freezed DA of the central government employees till June 2021 in view of the COVID-19 pandemic. So, once the government unfreezes the DA, the central government employees will get a 4 per cent DA hike for the period January to June 2020. Besides, the DA for the July-December 2020 period is also expected to be around 4 per cent following 7th Pay Commission recommendation. Moreover, DA for the January-June period 2021, is also on the cards.

"We are not sure whether there will be a 4 per cent DA hike for the July-December period, but unfreezing the DA for the January-June (2020) period will be a great help for us during this pandemic situation," another employee opined.

Meanwhile, financial experts believe that the DA needs to be unfreezed to lessen the economic impact. "If the DA of the central government employees continues to get freezed for the three successive terms, it might have serious financial implications and hence, a proper planning taking into account all angles needs to be done on unfreezing the DA," said an expert.