7th pay commission latest news: Though the entire Indian economy is going through a major crisis due to COVID-19, the central government employees may be in for a Diwali surprise as they may get a DA (dearness allowance) hike in the months to come. The Centre is set to revise the base year for the consumer price index for industrial workers (CPI-IW), a move that is likely to benefit over millions of government employees, pensioners, and industrial workers.

The base year for the CPI-IW will be changed from 2001 to 2016 to reflect the new consumption pattern of recent times. The CPI-IW hasn’t been revised since 2001, which ideally should be revised every five years. The index is used for computing both government staff’s dearness allowance (DA), pensioners’ dearness relief (DR) as well as industrial workers’ salaries.

In March, the government had increased DA of central government employees by 4%. However, in April, the government decided to implement this change from June 2021 instead of April this year, citing pandemic.

If this happens, the DA given to central government employees will be hiked, thereby providing benefit to over 48 lakh central government employees.  The DA of central government employees is linked with CPI-IW. Any change in base impacts the dearness allowance.

Union Labour and Employment Minister Santosh Kumar Gangwar are reportedly expected to release the new CPI-IW index, for September 2020, on Wednesday this week. However, the decision may not benefit the employees till 2021 as the Centre has fixed it at 17% till June next year in the wake of the coronavirus crisis.

In another development, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman last week revived the “Festival Advance Scheme”. The special Festival Advance Scheme will provide a one-time interest-free advance of Rs 10,000 to all officers and central government employees, irrespective of their position, ranks, and whether they are gazetted or non-gazetted officers.

The Rs 10,000 advance will come as a pre-paid Rupay card, which can be spent by March 31, 2021. The repayment will be in 10 instalments. It is expected Rs 4,000 crore will be disbursed under this scheme, according to the government.

Mean-while, India’s coronavirus count has touched 77.06 with a jump of 55,839 cases in the last 24 hours, government data shows. 702 deaths in the last 24 hours have pushed the total death count to 1,16,616. 68,74,518 people in the country have recovered since the beginning of the pandemic. The country has been reporting a steady decline in its daily coronavirus infections after reaching a peak of about 90,000 cases a day in September. India, which reported its first case on January 30, is the second worst-hit country in the world by the pandemic after the United States.