Close to one million civilian postings in the central government, or 22.7% of total sanctioned positions of about four million, were lying vacant at the end of the fiscal year ended March 2019, data from the finance ministry show.

According to the annual report of pay and allowances for 2018-19 released on Thursday, the largest employer was the railway ministry with 1.2 million positions filled against a sanctioned strength of 1.5 million posts, followed by the home affairs ministry where 963,086 out of a total of just over one million available posts were filled.

Among the major employment generating ministries of the central government, the defence ministry had the largest number of civilian vacancies with nearly 60% of its 633,139 sanctioned positions remaining unoccupied, the data showed.

The government’s total expenditure on pay and allowances for civilian employees stood at Rs 2 lakh crore in FY19, indicating a growth of about 7.4% from the previous fiscal, the report said.

Five major ministries and departments, including railways, defence (civilian), home affairs, post and revenue, accounted for 80% by way of expenditure and 92% in terms of personnel employed.

Of these, the railways ministry contributed to about 36.7% of total expenditure, followed by the home affairs ministry at 24% and the post department at 5.7%.

In terms of trends, the government’s expenditure on pay and allowances has steadily increased in the past 10 years save for a marginal 1.3% annual contraction in FY11.

The sharpest increase in the past 10 years was seen in FY10 when expenditure on pay and allowances shot up 33%, according to the report.

While the pay component made up for about 40% of total expenditure under consideration in FY15, the figure rose to 71% by FY19. At the same time, the share of expenditure on dearness allowance dropped from 41% in FY15 to 6% by FY19, the data showed.

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