The Sixth Central Pay Commission (CPC) has devoted fourth chapter of the report to the subject of Dearness Allowance (DA) payable to government servants. The sanction of Dearness Allowance is at present based on calculated six monthly increase in the All India Consumer Price Index (Industrial Workers) (AICPI-IW) with base year 1982=100. At the time when the scales granted by Fifth CPC came into existence (1st Jan.1996) this index stood at 306.03.
Fifth CPC started with calculation of DA @ 0% . from 1st Jan.1996 . In the month of April 2004 the rate at which DA was admissible had crossed the figure of 50% and therefore based on recommendations of the Fifth CPC 50% DA was merged in the basic pay . This addition to basic pay was known as Dearness Pay. .Thereafter every increase in DA was calculated on (Basic Pay + Dearness Pay). It has been observed that since after the merger of dearness pay with basic pay the base for calculation of increase in AICPI was not changed the neutralization in cost of living was presently being done at a rate higher than 100%.
Commission has pointed out that the present method of calculation for increase in cost of living takes into account the price rise in a group of identified commodities. It has compared the relative merits of “chain based” and “fixed base” methods of calculation of estimated growth in cost of living. The AICPI as stated above is based on the increase in cost of a basket of identified commodities. In the fixed base method the calculations are based on the assumption that consumer would adjust his consumption needs in relation to increase or decrease in prices of the constituent commodities. The chain based method takes into account the possibilities of change in consumption pattern due to availability of wider range of consumption goods and the improvement in the quality thereof due to economic growth. The latter methodology has been considered to be more relevant in today’s economic scenario.
However the basic data for the pattern of consumption in respect of several essential commodities would have to be compiled through a detailed all India survey if this methodology is to be adopted . The previous Pay Commissions had different views on this matter. The Fourth CPC favored evolution of a separate index for calculation of cost of living for the government servants. The Fifth CPC however felt that such index would also suffer from imbalances since consumption patterns of various categories of employees would be different. The Sixth CPC has suggested a sample survey through National Statistical Commission for evolving an index based on consumption pattern of government employees. Till this exercise is completed the present methodology of calculating the increase in cost of living and calculation of DA would continue.