7th CPC House Rent Allowance to PBOR – Defence Forces Personnel
7th Central Pay Commission has given some important recommendations on House Rent Allowance for PBOR.
PBORs have the option to choose CILQ or HRA, whichever is more beneficial.
PBORs of uniformed forces have vehemently argued for doing away with the concept of Authorized Married Establishment and the requirement of a minimum age of 25 years for grant of Compensation in Lieu of Quarters (CILQ).
For a certain number of PBORs, there is an option to choose between HRA and Compensation in lieu of Quarters (CILQ). For the remaining, compensation for housing is provided through Family Accommodation Allowance (FAA), and for certain ranks, through Single in Lieu of Quarters (SNLQ).
Compensation in lieu of Quarters – CILQ
The service conditions of the Defence Forces personnel demand that personnel reside in cantonments close to their Units. The entitlement of accommodation, therefore, forms a part of service conditions. Keeping in view functional requirements, an authorization of married establishment (by way of a specified percentage of the total establishment) has been decided by the government. PBORs who fall within this authorization percentage and cannot be provided married accommodation are entitled to Compensation in lieu of quarters (CILQ). CILQ is a composite allowance, meant to compensate for hiring of house, furniture, electricity and water etc. It is payable to PBORs who are married and are >=25 years of age. PBORs have the option to choose CILQ or HRA, whichever is more beneficial. This allowance is also applicable to similarly placed personnel of CAPFs and Indian Coast Guard. CILQ is payable at the following rates:
For the balance, compensation is through the FAA, which was introduced by the VI CPC. It is payable at the lowest rate of HRA to all PBORs of Defence services, CAPFs and India Coast Guard who do not qualify for benefit of HRA or CILQ. In Ministry of Defence, it is granted at the rate of 10 percent of Basic Pay, while in Ministry of Home, it is granted at a flat rate of ₹1,050 pm.
SNLQ is applicable to JCOs and equivalent personnel of Defence Forces only. When not provided with any type of accommodation at the Duty Station, they are entitled to SNLQ which is equal to 2/3rd the rate of CILQ at that station, for their personal requirement, plus CILQ for their families at the rate of a Class ‘Z’ city.
The present provisions can be understood with a simple example. Suppose for a particular rank, the provision of Authorized Married Establishment (AME) is 50 percent and there are, say, 100 such personnel at that place. Then first 50 personnel can choose whether to opt for HRA or take CILQ. The remaining 50 personnel are entitled only to FAA. When posted in Field areas, PBORs of Defence forces are entitled to HRA for their families at Selected Place of Residence (SPR). However, no such provision is available in CAPFs or Coast Guard.
There is a strong demand from PBORs of CAPFs and Coast Guard for being extended a similar benefit.
Analysis and Recommendations:
There is no doubt that personnel of uniformed services are unique in several ways. They are required to stay in the field for long periods of time, away from families. Even in non-field stations (peace stations), a minimum strength is required to be maintained in the barracks for quick deployment at short notice.
It is noted by the Commission that there was a time when these personnel could leave their families behind in villages and go for field postings. However, times have changed. Many of these PBORs have working spouses and harbor legitimate expectations of raising their children in urban areas.
With the AME percentage being limited, personnel take turns to fit into the AME percentage. An employee who is married but is less than 25 years of age is not entitled for AME at all, and therefore cannot avail CILQ. In the current context the provisions of AME as well as the stipulation of minimum 25 years of age to occupy these establishments are outdated and need revisiting.
It is felt that the service rendered by PBORs of uniformed services needs to be recognized and their housing provisions simplified. The Commission, in the interactions it has had with the men on the ground at all field locations it has visited, has seen firsthand that the lack of proper housing compensation is a source of discontentment among these employees. Hence, the following structure is recommended:
An employee with dependents, during field posting or staying in Barracks as functional requirement will be eligible for accommodation for his dependents anywhere in the country. * Provided government accommodation is not available for the dependents at Selected Place of Residence. If government accommodation is available, no HRA is payable.
** Reduced HRA means rate of HRA applicable reduced by 5 percent. However, the reduced amount cannot be less than the lowest rate of HRA applicable to Class Z cities/towns. Allowance is available provided employee is required to stay in barracks as a functional requirement and government accommodation is not available for the dependents at Selected Place of Residence. If employee is staying in barracks by choice or government accommodation is available at Selected Place of Residence, no HRA is payable.
@ Reduced HRA means rate of HRA applicable reduced by 5%. However, the reduced amount cannot be less than the lowest rate of HRA applicable to Class Z cities/towns. Allowance is available provided employee is required to stay in Barracks as a functional requirement. If employee is staying in Barracks by choice, no HRA is payable. # Provided government accommodation is not available, else no HRA is payable.
Staying in barracks cannot be equated with provision of adequate housing. Hence, some compensation is provided for those personnel who are required to stay in barracks as a functional requirement in the form of Reduced HRA. The restrictions related to Authorized Married Establishment, 25 years of age as well as the concept of Separated Family Accommodation should be done away with. CILQ, FAA and SNLQ should also be abolished.