Washington: At a time when US is facing economic strain and automatic budgetary cuts is in place, President Barack Obama, in a show of solidarity has decided to return five percent of his salary amounting to USD 20,000 to the Department of Treasury.
    
Notably, US Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel will also voluntarily return part of his salary in solidarity with Defense Department's 800,000 civilian employees facing unpaid furloughs.

The salary of the US President is USD 400,000 per annum (over Rs 2 crore) and in a show of solidarity he will return its five percent which amounts to USD 20,000 (over Rs 10 lakh) to the treasury.
    
"Obama instructed his staff that he wanted to do this when the sequester took effect," White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said.
      
"The salary for the President, as with Members of Congress, is set by law and cannot be changed. However, the President has decided that to share in the sacrifice being made by public servants across the federal government that are affected by the sequester, he will contribute a portion of his salary back to the Treasury," Carney said.
 
Obama plans to write checks to Treasury on a monthly basis, effective March 1, but will cut the first check in April. A day earlier, US Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel had announced a similar move.

The Pentagon will start forcing certain employees to take unpaid furloughs or leaves this month due to the mandatory budget cuts that entered into force on March 1 after Congress and the White House failed to reach an agreement on reducing the budget deficit in an orderly way.

Hagel will commit to partial forfeiture over the 14-week furlough period , though furlough-exempt as a presidentially appointed, Senate-confirmed official, Pentagon spokesman George Little has said.

Hagel earns an annual salary of about USD 200,000 as defense chief, according to the daily Politico. Little said he hopes the recent change reducing the projected furloughs from 22 to 14 days brings some relief to the workforce, and he added that employees will remain informed of any further changes.

Officials are reviewing analytics to determine the number of civilian employees they expect to have to furlough in the coming weeks, the Pentagon spokesman said. He said, civilians serving in a war zone, foreign nationals protected by the status of forces of agreement and other categories would be exempted from the cuts. "This has been a troubling time for them and for our uniformed employees too, even though they're exempt from furlough," Little said.

Senator Mark Begich also announced that he would voluntarily give back part of his salary and that more than half of his staff members would have their pay cut this year.

JPN/Agencies

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