Government contractors, under the banner of the Kerala Government Contractors’ Ekopana Samithi, will strike work on May 7, to protest against non-clearance of dues and the delay in revising rates in keeping with the increase in the cost of raw materials.
There is a stalemate in the sector, since officials have not played their part in updating norms, although the Ministers for Finance and Public Works took a considerate stand when samithi representatives met them. No orders in this regard were passed in April, contrary to our hope, said Varghese Kannampilly, convenor of the samithi.
Contractors are not being allotted compensation that was granted for the escalating price of bitumen. Even worse, orders are yet to be passed in this regard, despite the increase in the price of cement, steel, and pipes. All this is in addition to the delay in implementing an order passed by the Finance Department to compensate contractors when GST was rolled out in 2017. Furthermore, the GST was increased from 12% to 18% in January 2022. But the government failed to compensate contractors for the 6% additional expense on this count, he said.
The samithi has,, in addition, demanded steps to pass an order revising rates based on at least 2021 rates, since they are now being given rates as per the 2018 ‘Delhi schedule’, which is much lower than the market rates. The body has warned of embarking on an indefinite agitation if the government does not pay heed to its 21-point rights declaration.