The government will soon issue a comprehensive order streamlining creation, reporting and filling of supernumerary posts as a follow-up to the decision to unify the retirement age of State employees and teachers, Finance Minister T.M. Thomas Isaac told the Assembly on Monday.

Responding to an Opposition motion seeking adjournment of the proceedings to discuss what it termed the impasse in government appointments, Dr. Isaac conceded that there were some shortcomings in the manner in which supernumerary posts were being created and appointments being made to them. Instead of the current practice of creating posts on a monthly basis, the government would go in for creation of supernumerary posts in two blocks of six months each. It had decided to extend the validity of the existing Public Service Commission (PSC) lists till May 31 next and this had been approved by the commission, he said.

Leader of the Opposition Oommen Chandy and Congress member P.C. Vishnunath, who sought leave for the adjournment motion, were sceptical about Dr. Isaac's claims. They said though the Finance Minister had put the actual number of persons who had been given employment last year against arising vacancies at 6,035, no actual postings had taken place. They challenged the Minister to prove his claim and alleged that the government had caused immense harm to the youth of the State by using the unification of retirement age to achieve its goal of enhancing the retirement age.

Dr. Isaac said the normal annual intake into government service was around 18,000. Of these, 8,000 would be teachers whose retirement was in any case linked to the close of the academic year. Of the remaining 10,000 possible postings, 6,035 had been made last year. The government normally took up to two years to fill all vacancies arising during a given year. This could be due to various reasons, including the absence of relevant PSC rank-lists, delay in the conduct of departmental promotion committee meetings and so on, he said.

Mr. Vishnunath said the Finance Minister's claims ran contrary to Chief Minister V.S. Achuthanandan's reply in the Assembly that not every vacancy could be filled on a permanent basis. Although the government often claimed that it had given employment to 41,000 persons in the State service, the figure actually had to do with the number of advice memos issued and not actual recruitment. A person who appeared for various PSC tests would get advice memos for different posts and that was no indicator of the actual number of persons given employment, Mr. Vishnunath said.

Mr. Chandy felt Dr. Isaac was giving the lighter side of the picture and wanted the exact number of persons who had been given employment before April 1 last. Dr. Isaac offered to provide the figures at the earliest.

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