Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Tuesday announced 18 per cent dearness allowance for state government employees from January 2019.

“We give DA to our employees every January. Though we do not have much funds because of the Centre’s deductions, we pay DA to our employees. Earlier at a programme organised by the state government employees in Nazrul Mancha I had promised to pay DA and I have kept my commitment,” said Miss Banerjee.

This hike in dearness allowance will cost the state exchequer an additional Rs 5,000 crore, Miss Banerjee said. The state government has spent Rs 27,000 crore since 2011 for payment of DA.

Apart from state government employees, the additional DA will be applicable to teachers and non-teaching staff of educational institutions and employees of rural and urban local bodies.

“We have also decided to merge 10 per cent of interim relief into DA. With release of the additional 18 per cent DA and merger of the interim relief, the total additional DA will be 25 per cent. So, the total DA will be 125 per cent for state government employees from 1 January next year,” Miss Banerjee said.

“The Left Front had given only 35 per cent DA and see we are giving 125 per cent,” said Miss Banerjee, claiming that the state government employees will get DA at par with their central counterparts.

The Trinamul Congress-led union welcomed the move but the Opposition unions criticised that the state employees still lag behind the central employees by 45 per cent.

The INTUC-backed employees union had earlier moved court with regard to the delay in payment of DA.