Thursday, December 31, 2020
TRAVELLING ALLOWANCE RULES- PRODUCTION OF RECEIPTS/VOUCHERS FOR REIMBURSEMENT OF TRAVELLING CHARGES FOR TRAVEL WITHIN THE CITY ADMISSIBLE UNDER DAILY ALLOWANCE ON TOUR CLICK THE BELOW LINK TO VIEW
REVISION OF INTEREST RATES FOR THE SMALL SAVINGS SCHEMES FOR THE 4TH QUARTER OF THE YEAR 2020-21
REIMBURSEMENT OF COST OF OPD MEDICINES : SPECIAL SANCTION IN VIEW OF COVID19 TILL 28TH FEBRUARY 2021 (CLICK THE BELOW LINK TO VIEW)
THE DEPARTMENT OF POSTS WINS THE ‘DIGITAL INDIA GOLD AWARD 2020' IN THE CATEGORY OF ‘EXCELLENCE IN DIGITAL GOVERNANCE (CENTRAL MINISTRY AND DEPARTMENT)'
MINISTRY OF COMMUNICATIONS
POSTAL DEPARTMENT ISSUES NOTICE ON UPDATING CUSTOMS DATA OF ARTICLES CONTAINING GOODS
Posted On: 31 DEC 2020 6:55PM by PIB Delhi
Department of Posts, Ministry of Communications, has issued a Public Notice on Updating Customs data of Articles containing goods.
The notice states , “ As per rule 47 of Post Office Guide Part 2 and other relevant rules, it is mandatory that all postal articles including ordinary articles containing goods meant for delivery to foreign destinations are affixed with correct and complete relevant custom declaration forms. These forms include details of sender and recipient along with descriptions of the contents of the article.”
Department of Posts reiterated for information of customer/ public that in the absence of correct and complete Custom Declaration forms (CN22/ CN23), such articles will not be processed and will be returned to the sender as per departmental rules.
Information of CN forms and other details/ guidelines are available at https://www.indiapost.gov.in/MBE/Pages/Content/MoreInfo.aspx#Custom_forms_and_Regulations (Release ID: 1685142) Visitor Counter
Wednesday, December 30, 2020
Date of filling ITR extended
Press Information Bureau Government of India Ministry of Finance
Date: 30 DEC 2020
Extension of time limits for income tax returns In view of the challenges faced by taxpayers in meeting the statutory and regulatory compliances due to the outbreak of COVID-19, the Government brought the Taxation and Other Laws (Relaxation of Certain Provisions) Ordinance, 2020 (‘the Ordinance’) on 31st March, 2020 which, inter alia, extended various time limits. The Ordinance has since been replaced by the Taxation and Other Laws (Relaxation and Amendment of Certain Provisions) Act. The Government issued a Notification on 24th June, 2020 under the Ordinance which, inter alia, extended the due date for all Income Tax Returns for the FY 2019-20 (AY 2020-21) to 30th November, 2020. Hence, the returns of income which were required to be filed by 31st July, 2020 and 31st October, 2020 were required to be filed by 30th November, 2020. Consequently, the date for furnishing various audit reports including tax audit report under the Income-tax Act, 1961 (the Act) was also extended to 31st October, 2020. In order to provide more time to taxpayers for furnishing of Income Tax Returns, the due date was further extended vide notification No 88/2020/F. No. 370142/35/2020-TPL dated 29th October, 2020: (A) The due date for furnishing of Income Tax Returns for the taxpayers (including their partners) who are required to get their accounts audited [for whom the due date (i.e. before the said extension) as per the Act was 31st October, 2020] was extended to 31st January, 2021. (B) The due date for furnishing of Income Tax Returns for the taxpayers who are required to furnish report in respect of international/specified domestic transactions [for whom the due date (i.e. before the said extension) as per the Act was 30th November, 2020] was extended to 31st January, 2021. (C) The due date for furnishing of Income Tax Returns for the other taxpayers [for whom the due date (i.e. before the said extension) as per the Act was 31st July, 2020] was extended to 31st December, 2020. (D) Consequently, the date for furnishing of various audit reports under the Act including tax audit report and report in respect of international/specified domestic transaction was also extended to 31st December, 2020. Considering the problems being faced by the taxpayers, it has been decided to provide further time to the taxpayers for furnishing of Income Tax Returns, tax audit reports and declaration under Vivad Se Vishwas Scheme. Further, in order to provide more time to taxpayers to comply under various ongoing proceedings, the dates of completion of proceedings under various Direct Taxes &Benami Acts have also been extended. These extensions are as under: a. The due date for furnishing of Income Tax Returns for the Assessment Year 2020-21 for the taxpayers (including their partners) who are required to get their accounts audited and companies [for whom the due date, as per the provisions of section 139(1) of the Income-tax Act,1961, was 31st October, 2020 and which was extended to 30th November, 2020 and then to 31st January, 2021] has been further extended to 15th February, 2021. b. The due date for furnishing of Income Tax Returns for the Assessment Year 2020-21 for the taxpayers who are required to furnish report in respect of international/specified domestic transactions [for whom the due date, as per the provisions of section 139(1) of the Income-tax Act,1961, was 30th November, 2020 and which was extended to 31st January, 2021] has been further extended to 15th February, 2021. c. The due date for furnishing of Income Tax Returns for the Assessment Year 2020-21 for the other taxpayers [for whom the due date, as per the provisions of section 139(1) of the Income-tax Act, 1961, was 31st July, 2020 and which was extended to 30th November, 2020 and then to 31st December, 2020] has been further extended to 10th January, 2021. d. The date for furnishing of various audit reports under the Act including tax audit report and report in respect of international/specified domestic transaction for the Assessment Year 2020-21 has been further extended to 15th January, 2021. e. The last date for making a declaration under Vivad Se Vishwas Scheme has been extended to 31st January, 2021 from 31st December, 2020. f. The date for passing of orders under Vivad Se Vishwas Scheme, which are required to be passed by 30th January, 2021 has been extended to 31st January, 2021. g. The date for passing of order or issuance of notice by the authorities under the Direct Taxes &Benami Acts which are required to be passed/ issued/ made by 30th March, 2021 has also been extended to 31st March, 2021. Further, in order to provide relief for the third time to small and middle class taxpayers in the matter of payment of self-assessment tax, the due date for payment of self-assessment tax date is hereby again being extended. Accordingly, the due date for payment of self-assessment tax for taxpayers whose self-assessment tax liability is up to Rs. 1 lakh has been extended to 15th February, 2021 for the taxpayers mentioned in para 4(a) and para 4(b) and to 10th January, 2021 for the taxpayers mentioned in para 4(c). The Government has also extended the due date of furnishing of annual return under section 44 of the Central Goods and Services Tax Act, 2017 for the financial year 2019-20 from 31st December, 2020 to 28th February, 2021. The necessary notifications in this regard shall be issued in due course.
YEAR END REVIEW-2020 DEPARTMENT OF POSTS
Tuesday, December 29, 2020
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS ON COVID-19 VACCINE
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS ON COVID-19 VACCINE FOR GENERAL PUBLIC AND HEALTHCARE PROVIDERS/FRONTLINE WORKERS
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS ON COVID-19 VACCINE
TARGET GROUP: GENERAL PUBLIC
Is a COVID vaccine scheduled soon anytime?
Yes, vaccine trials are under different stages of finalization. Government of India is geared to launch a vaccine for COVID 19 soon. For more information and updates visit www.mohfw.gov.in
Will COVID 19 vaccine be given to everyone simultaneously
Based on the potential availability of vaccines the Government of India has selected the priority groups who will be vaccinated on priority as they are at higher risk.
The first group includes healthcare and frontline workers. The second group to receive COVID 19 vaccine will be persons over 50 years of age and persons under 50 years with comorbid conditions.
Is it mandatory to take the vaccine?
Vaccination for COVID-19 is voluntary. However, it is advisable to receive the complete schedule of COVID-19 vaccine for protecting one-self against this disease and also to limit the spread of this disease to the close contacts including family members, friends, relatives and co-workers.
Will the vaccine be safe as it is being tested and introduced in a short span of time?
Vaccines will be introduced in the country only after the regulatory bodies clear it based on its safety and efficacy.
Can a person presently having COVID-19 (confirmed or suspected) infection be vaccinated?
Person with confirmed or suspected COVID-19 infection may increase the risk of spreading the same to others at vaccination site. For this reason, infected individuals should defer vaccination for 14 days after symptoms resolution.
Is it necessary for a COVID recovered person to take the vaccine?
Yes, it is advisable to receive complete schedule of COVID vaccine irrespective of past history of infection with COVID-19. This will help in developing a strong immune response against the disease.
Out of the multiple vaccines available, how is one or more vaccine chosen for administration?
The safety and efficacy data from clinical trials of vaccine candidates are examined by Drug regulator of our country before granting the vaccine chosen for license for the same. Hence, all the COVID-19 vaccines that receive license will have comparable safety and efficacy.However, it must be ensured that the entire schedule of vaccination is completed by only one type of vaccine as different COVID-19 vaccines are not interchangeable.
Does India have the capacity to store the COVID vaccine at temperature of +2 to +8 degree Celsius and transport them at
India runs one of the largest Immunization programme in the world, catering to the vaccination needs of more than 26 million newborns and 29 million pregnant women. The programme mechanisms are being strengthened / geared up to effectively cater to the country’s large and diverse population.
Will the vaccine introduced in India be as effective as the ones introduced in other countries?
Yes. The COVID 19 vaccine introduced in India will be as effective as any vaccine developed by other countries. Various phases of vaccine trials are undertaken to ensure its safety and efficacy.
How will I know if I am eligible for vaccination?
In the initial phase, COVID 19 vaccine will be provided to the priority group- Health Care and Front-line workers.
The 50 plus age group may also begin early based on vaccine availability.
The eligible beneficiaries will be informed through their registered mobile number regarding the Health Facility where the vaccination will be provided and the scheduled time for the same. This will be done to avoid any inconvenience in registration and vaccination of beneficiaries.
Can a person get the COVID-19 vaccine without registration with Health Department?
No, registration of beneficiary is mandatory for vaccination for COVID 19. Only after registration the information on the session site to visit and time will be shared with the beneficiary.
What documents are required for registration of eligible beneficiary?
Any of the below mentioned ID with Photo may be produced at the time of registration:
• Driving License
Will a Photo / ID be required at the time of registration?
The Photo ID produced at the time of registration must be produced and verified at the time of vaccination
If a person is not able to produce Photo ID at the session site, whether s/he be vaccinated or not?
Photo ID is a must for both registration and verification of beneficiary at session site to ensure that the intended person is vaccinated
How will the beneficiary receive information about due date of vaccination?
Following online registration, beneficiary will receive SMS on their registered mobile number on the due date, place and time of vaccination.
Will vaccinated beneficiaries receive information on the status of their vaccination after completion?
Yes. On getting due dose of COVID 19 vaccine, the beneficiary will receive SMS on their registered mobile number.After all doses of vaccine are administered, a QR code based certificate will also be sent to the registered mobile number of the beneficiary.
If one is taking medicines for illnesses like Cancer, Diabetes, Hypertension etc, can s/he take the COVID- 19 vaccine?
Yes. Persons with one or more of these comorbid conditions are considered high risk category. They need to get COVID -19 vaccination.
Are there any preventive measures and precautions that one needs to follow at the session site?
We request you to rest at the vaccination centre for atleast half an hour after taking the COVID-19 vaccine. Inform the nearest health authorities I ANM I ASHA in case you feel any discomfort or uneasiness subsequently.Remember to continue following key COVID Appropriate Behaviours like wearing of mask, maintaining hand sanitization and physical distance (or 6 feet or Do Gaj).
What about the possible side-effects from COVID-19 vaccine?
COVID Vaccine will be introduced only when the safety is proven. As is true for other vaccines, the common side effects in some individuals could be mild fever, pain, etc. at the site of injection.
States have been asked to start making arrangements to deal with any Covid-19 vaccine-related side-effects as one of the measures towards safe vaccine delivery among masses.
How many doses of the vaccine would have to be taken by me and at what interval?
Two doses of vaccine, 28 days apart, need to be taken by an individual to complete the vaccination schedule.
When would antibodies develop? After taking first dose, after taking second dose, or much later?
Protective levels of antibodies are generally developed two weeks after receiving the 2nd dose of COVID-19 vaccine.
TARGET GROUP: HEALTHCARE PROVIDERS/FRONTLINE WORKERS
Why am I being chosen for COVID 19 vaccine?
Government of India has prioritised the most at risk/high risk groups which will get the vaccine first. Healthcare providers have led the battle against COVID 19 from the front. The government wants you to be able to continue your work, without the fear of risk associated with the virus. Therefore, healthcare and frontline workers are among the first group of people to be vaccinated in the country.
What are the groups to be vaccinated in the first phase?
Based on the potential availability of vaccines the Government of India has selected the priority groups who will be vaccinated on priority as they are at higher risk.
The first group includes healthcare workers because they are at high risk of contracting the infection and protecting them helps to sustain essential health services. The vaccination of frontline workers will help in reducing the societal and economic impact by reducing COVID- 19 mortalities. The next group to receive COVID 19 vaccine will be persons over 50 years of age and persons under 50 years with comorbid conditions because there is high mortality in this category.
The reason for including more than 50 years of age group for vaccination is that it will be able to cover 78% of persons having co-morbidities and thereby reduce mortality on account of COVID-19.
More than 50 years of age group is divided into two sub groups. One sub group is 60 years and above, they will be vaccinated first. Second sub- group is between 50 to 60 years age group, they will be vaccinated after the first sub group is covered.
The vaccination may not be sequential. It can go in parallel for all beneficiaries depending on the availability of the vaccine.
Will my family members also be given the vaccine?
Due to the limited vaccine supply in the initial phase, it will first be provided to people who are at higher risk of contracting COVID-19. In subsequent phases the COVID 19 vaccine will be made available to all others in need of the same.
Is this vaccine safe?
Yes. Safety and efficacy of vaccine will be ensured through various phases of vaccine trials and only then a vaccine will be introduced.
Does one need to follow preventive measures such as wearing a mask, hand sanitization, social distancing after receiving the COVID 19 vaccine?
Even after receiving the COVID 19 vaccine, we must continue taking all precautions like use of face cover or masks, hand sanitization and maintain distancing (6 feet or Do Gaj). These behaviours must be followed both at the session site and in general.
Are there any common side- effects of this vaccine?
The COVID 19 vaccine will be safe and effective but may have minor side effects like fever, pain, etc. at the injection site. These effects can happen in any vaccine.
YEAR END REVIEW-2020 DEPARTMENT OF POSTS
Monday, December 28, 2020
Friday, December 25, 2020
Thursday, December 24, 2020
Tuesday, December 22, 2020
TRAVELLING ALLOWANCE RULES – PRODUCTION OF RECEIPTS/VOUCHERS FOR REIMBURSEMENT OF TRAVELLING CHARGES FOR TRAVEL WITHIN THE CITY ADMISSIBLE UNDER DAILY ALLOWANCE ON TOUR
Government of India
Ministry of Finance
Department of Expenditure
North Block, New Delhi
Dated 22nd December, 2020
Subject: Travelling Allowance Rules – production of receipts/vouchers for reimbursement of Travelling charges for travel within the city admissible under Daily Allowance on tour- regarding.
The undersigned is directed to refer to Para 2 (E) (i) & (ill) of this Department’s OM No. 19030/1/2017-E.IV dated 13.07.2017 regarding Travelling Allowance Rules — Implementation of 7th CPC vide which reimbursement for Travelling Charges for travel within the city admissible under Daily Allowance on Tour, has been prescribed. As per Para 2E(iii) of this O.M. Level 8 & Below have been allowed reimbursement of Travelling Charges without production of vouchers against self — certification and Level 9 & above have to produce vouchers.
2. Several references have been received in this Department regarding difficulties being faced by the officials in Pay Level 9 to 11 for production of receipts/vouchers while claiming reimbursement of Travelling Charges for travel within the city admissible under Daily Allowance on Tour as per Para 2E(i) of Annexure to this Department’s OM dated 13.07.2017.
3. The matter has been considered in this Department and it has been decided that for reimbursement of Travelling Charges admissible under Daily Allowance on tour as mentioned in Para 2E(i) of OM dated 13.07.2017, condition of production of receipts/vouchers for officials in Pay Level 9 to 11, is done away with subject to furnishing of self-certification in which officials have to indicate the period of travel, vehicle Number etc.
4. In their application to the persons belonging to the Indian Audit & Accounts Department, this order is issued under Article 148(5) of the Constitution and after consultation with the Comptroller & Auditor General of India.
9. This is issued with the approval of Secretary (Expenditure).
Hindi version is attached.
All Ministries and Departments of the Govt. of India etc. as per standard distribution list.
Copy to : C&AG and U.P.S.C. etc. as per standard endorsement list.
GUIDELINES REGARDING TREATMENT OF CGHS BENEFICIARIES IN EMPANELLED HCOS IN DELHI-NCR
(CLICK THE LINK BELOW TO VIEW) https://cghs.gov.in/showfile.php?lid=5952
national pension system (NPS)
and future of pension in the neo-liberal era.
Ex-Secretary General, NFPE &
Confederation of Central Govt. Employees & Workers
(Paper presented in the National Webinar organised by AIPRPA
Fourth Central Pay Commission headed by the Retired Justice of Supreme Court of India Shri. Ashok Singhal, made the following observations regarding pension in para 2.13 of Part-II of its report:
“The concept of pension, however old in its origin, had the latent and real desire to provide for an eventuality - known and unknown. The known eventuality was old age and probable reduction in earning power, while unknown eventuality was disability by decease or accident or death. It’s real purpose was security, social security. Eventhough the beginning was oblique, indiscernible and faint, but the germ of an effort to provide security ran through the provision and it is natural that it should have grown and flowered with the development of human understanding and desire to look after and provide for those who deserve it, for, man has constantly been seeking means by which to enhance his economic security.”
Payment of pension to Government employees started in Europe for the first time in Nineteenth Century. It’s genesis can be traced to the first Act of Parliament in United Kingdom (Britain) in1810, to be concerned with the provision of pension generally in Public Offices. The Act which substantively devoted itself exclusively to the problem of Superannuation pension was passed in 1834, called Superannuation Act 1834. These are landmarks in pension history because they attempted for the first time to establish a comprehensive and uniform scheme for all, whom we may call civil servants. In England, the basic social security pension was introduced from the year 1946. In USA the pension was first introduced as a social security scheme. It was thereafter, that the Civil services retirement pension system was introduced in USA in 1920. In fact, social security in old age commended itself in earlier stages as a moral concept, but in the course of time it required legal connotation.
In India the first pensioner’s Act was introduced in 1871. Under the Pensioners Act 1871, enacted during the British Regime, Pension is a bounty given as a matter of grace, depending on the sweet will of the employer and was to be paid by the Collector or the Deputy Commissioner or other authorised officer. Initially this class of Pension appears to have been introduced as a reward for loyal service.
In the course of transformation of society from feudal to welfare state and as socialistic thinking acquired responsibility, states obligation to provide security in old age, an escape from undeserved want, was recognised and as a first step, pension was treated not only as a reward for past service, but with a view to helping the employee to avoid destitution in old age. The quid-pro-quo was that when the employee was physically and mentally alert, he/she has rendered unto the master the best, expecting the master to look after him in the fall of life.
After Independence of our country, just like every citizen of our country, Pensioners also expected positive changes in the attitude of the National Government towards, the issues of pensioners and improvement in the Pension structure. But nothing of that sort happened. Instead, the very same attitude of the British Government was followed and pensioners became a neglected lot, a category of unwanted people, a non-productive financial burden, a head-ache to the Government. Once an employee retires from service, the nexus between him and the Government was broken. Problems of pensioners were being placed at the lowest position in the priority list, instead of seriously considering them on top priority basis. The Government mostly remained adamant, refused to budge, turned a deaf ear to the problems of pensioners. In the 1st, 2nd and 3rd Central Pay Commission’s terms of reference, revision of pension structure and other pensionary benefits of the Central Government employees was not included. Poor Pensioners could not ventilate their grievances and they could not demonstrate as there was no organised movement of pensioners at that time. Most of the poor pensioners prayed to the God to improve their lot.
Inspite of acknowledging the right to pension in Article 366(17) of the Constitution of India, in reality no preference was given to pensioner’s till 1982. 1982 became a turning point in the history of Pensioners in India. It is in that year, Honourable Supreme Court of India upheld the right to Pension. The historic judgement in the Nakara case, which is called the magna carta of pensioners, was delivered on 17-12-1982 by the five member constitution bench of the Hon’. Supreme Court of India. I am not going into the details of the Judgement, as my collegue Com: K.Raghavendran has already dealt in detail, the important aspects of the judgement.
It is at that time, in 1983, Central Government appointed 4th Central Pay Commission. Inspired by the historic judgement, Pensioners Associations, big and small, sprang up at all important cities of the country. The National Council, Staff side of the Joint Consultative Machinery, of the Central Government serving employees also siezed of the importance of the judgement. Just like 1st, 2nd & 3rd Central Pay Commissions in the terms of reference of the 4th Central Pay Commission also, there was no mention about revision of pension and other pensionery benefits of Central Government employees. Combined demand of National Council (JCM) staff side and the Pensioners organisations compelled the Government to amend the terms of reference of 4th CPC and the following item was also incorporated in the terms of reference.
“to examine the existing pension structure including DCRG and making recommendations which may be desirable and feasible”.
Fifth Central Pay Commission headed by Retired Supreme Court Justice (Shri) S.Ratnavel Pandian made the following observation regarding pension.
“Pension is their deferred wage. Pension is their statutory, inalienable and legally enforceable right and it had been earned by the sweat of their brow”.
In the year 1971, the Hon’ble Supreme Court of India while disposing the case pertaining to Deokinandan Prasad Vs. State of Bihar, declared that pension is a property under Article 31(1) of the Constitution and by a mere Executive order, the state had no power to withhold the same.
Fourth Central Pay Commission in para 2.3 of the Part-II Report, reiterated as follows:-
“Pension is not by way of charity or an ex-gratia payment, or a purely social welfare measure, but may fairly be said to be in the nature of a “right” which is enforceable by law”.
As already mentioned consequent on pronouncement of Nakara Judgement by the Hon’ble Supreme Court of India, the Government was compelled to include the clause regarding revision of pension and pensionary benefits, in the terms of reference of 4th and 5th Central Pay Commission. But when it came to 6th Central Pay Commission, the terms of reference was modified as follows:
“To examine the principles which should govern the structure of pension to the present and former Central Govt. Employees appointed before 1st January 2004.”
Thus the revision of pension and pensionary benefits of Central Govt. Employees appointed after 01-01-2004, was completely excluded from the purview of 6th Pay Commission.
The reason for this change is that the Govt. of India has introduced a New Contributory Pension Scheme for the Central Govt. employees who joined service on or after 01-01-2004.
Pension Refeorms in India and New Contributory Pension Scheme (NPS):
Consequent on implementation of neo-liberal globalisation policies in 1980s, Pension privatisation offensives has engulfed the workers and employees almost all over the world. Govt. of India also faithfully followed the international dictates of the world capitalism. Union Finance Minister of the erstwhile BJP Govt. ie. A.B.Vajpayee Government in its budget speech 2001-02 envisaged a new Pension Scheme based on defined contribution instead of defined benefit, to new entrants entering Government service. As a sequel to the above announcement a High Level Expert Group was constituted on 25th June 2001 to review the existing pension scheme and provide roadmap for introducing a new pension system based on defined contributions. Based on the recommendations of this committee called “Bhattacharyya Committee on pension reforms”, the BJP Govt. issued an order on 17-12-2003, under the title “New Pension for those appointed on or after 01-01-2004”. Government of India promulgated an ordinance on New Pension Scheme (NPS) on 4th December 2004 to give legislative sanction to the order. Most of the State Government in India also followed the suit. Govt’s repeated attempt to pass an Act in parliament could not succeed due to stiff opposition of left parties who supported the then UPA Government in power. Finally when a Government without the support of Left Parties came to power the Pension Fund Regulatory and Development Authority Act (PFRDA Act) was passed in the Parliament on 2013 September 18th.
Political and Economic background of the New Pension System (NPS). The concept of privatized and individual pension account and Private Fund Managers arose in the mid-eighties in Europe and United States, when the economy of these countries, suffered from a serious recessionary situation. In Europe, the Government and Corporate sector thought of this change in concept and implementation of Pension reforms largely by promoting a gradual switch over for providing “Pensions” through funded schemes - ie; from defined benefit to defined contribution, either managed by or on behalf of employing companies (known in Britain as occupational pension scheme) or else on an individual basis (Personal pensions).
Official propaganda sought to justify this to the public on the grounds that the cost of tax payers on the state funded schemes is no longer affordable and the pension fund scheme can provide finance for productive investment and economic regeneration. The idea was that this private individual finance, collected as pension contribution from the employees, when invested will boost ,the declining share market and help economic revival. In fact, the impetus behind the switch over towards funded pension schemes came from politically powerful vested interests in the financial sector (ie. corporates) who were anxious to strengthen and perpetuate the importance and profitability of their own “industry”, thereby also increase the size of the “wall of money” which helps to prop up the market value of their financial securities and other assets.
Naturally, those who also promote such increasing flows of funds into financial markets (share markets) did not care to dwell on the likelihood that supply of funds may be rapidly out-stripping the demand, and that there is consequent risk of serious losses to investors (here in the case of Pension fund investors are employees) and the collapse of the financial institutions. In reality, any benefit supposed to depend on the vagaries of share market is always vulnerable to total ruin. This happened during 2008 world recession.
At the beginning of 1980’s, the International Monetory Fund (IMF) and World Bank, seriously took up the cause of privatised Pension Scheme and consequent Pension Funds and burnt mid-night oil to make a number of studies and set up various working groups. Publishing of the India specific report released by World Bank in April 2001 titled - “India - Challenge of old age income security” was followed by another report ‘ “IMF working paper on Pension reforms in India” published in September 2001. The reports clearly stated that Pension obligation (ie. obligation of the Government to pay pension as per the Pension Rules) or promise ,made by the Government, which has potential on exerting pressure on Government finance, has been the focuss in assessing medium to long-term fiscal sustainability. In tune with the above neo-liberal dictates of the IMF and World Bank, in the 2001-2002 Budget spech of Finance Minister of then BJP Government made the observations the Central Govt.’s Pension liability has reached unsustainable proportions and hence it is high time that a new contributory pension scheme is introduced for the Government servants entering the Central Government services.
It is quite clear that what the Government of India was trying to do by introducing the so called “New Pension Scheme” was nothing but faithfully following the pro-corporate pension reforms in toto and thus it is a part of the imperialist globalisastion in the interest of big capitalists and Multi National Companies and it has nothing to do with the welfare of the employees or pensioners or any individual or even Government finances.
Parliamentary Standing Committee on Finance (2010-2011) of 15th Lok Sabha of Ministry of Finance headed by shri. Yaswanth Sinha in its 14th Report on PFRDA Bill, has made the following observations - Para 44 - “The Committee, deeply concerned about the uncertainty of returns on the funds of the subscribers, are dismayed at the casual approach of the Government as reflected in clause 20(g), wherein the hapless subscribers have no implicit or explicit assurance of benefits, except market based guaranteed returns mechanism, neither tried or tested. As any effective pension scheme needs to be underpinned by stability of returns and reasonable post retirement incomes, it is imperative that Government should provide for minimum guaranteed returns, and not mere camouflage of market based guarantee, which should not be less than the minimum returns available currently under ,the defined benefit pension scheme. The Committee therefore, desire that the Government must divise a mechanism to enable subscribers of NPS to be ensured of such a minimum assured/guaranteed returns for their pensioners, so that they are not put to any disadvantage vis-a-vis other pensioners and thus going a long way in creating a sense of security amongst the employees that not only would their capital be safe but they would also be getting stable returns on the same. The Committee, therefore, recommended that clause 20 (2)(g) of the Bill be altered accordingly”.
Neither the Government has taken any action to guarantee Minimum Pension as recommended by Parliamentary Standing Committee, nor it has introduced a minimum assured returns scheme as provided in sub-section 2(d) of section 20 of PFRDA Act 2013.
The Audit Report dated 4th August 2020 on National Pension System by the Comptroller and Auditor General of India (C&AG) in Para 3.7 of its report made the following observations/recommendations -
“As per PFRDA Act 2013, vide sub section 2(d) under Section 20, the subscriber seeking minimum assured returns shall have the option to invest his funds in such schemes providing minimum assured returns as may be notified by the Authority. Even after a lapse of more than 15 years since introduction of the NPS, the subscribers were yet to receive such minimum assurance. Immediate steps need to be taken for providing Minimum Assured Returns Scheme (MARS) in compliance to the provisions of the PFRDA Act, to the subscriber for ensuring their social security post retirement”.
As per the C&AG Audit report dated 4th August, 2020, as on 31st March 2018, there are 58.01 lakhs Government sector subscribers including 17,58,144 Central Government employees, 31,63,415 State Government employees, 1,70,856 Central Autonomous body employees and 7,08,585 State Autonomous body employees. The pension of these 58 lakhs employees is not guaranteed and hence they are living in a State of uncertainty about their futurte. Further they are not eligible for family pension after death on retirement, Dearness relief, Additional pension inspite of the fact that they are paying 10% of their salary every month including Dearness Allowance towards New Pension Scheme. They are also not eligible for pension revision through Pay Commissions.
At the same time Corporates and Multi National Companies are happy because as per the C&AG Audit report dated 4th August 2020, the total Asset Under Management (AUM) in NPS amounted to 3,99,245 crores as on 31st January 2020 with 3,41,815.87 crores pertaining to Government Sector. (Central and State Government employees).
Employees and Pensioners under Old Pension scheme (OPS) are also not safe:
Clause 12(5) of PFRDA Act is reads as follows:
“Notwithstanding anything contained in clause (c) of sub section (3), the Central Govt. may, by notification extend the application of this Act to any other pension scheme (including any other pension scheme exempted and notified ,under clause (c) of Sub section (3)”. That means no seperate Act is to be passed in Parliament for this purpose.
The Central Govt. has made an attempt in this regard, through 6th Central Pay Commission appointed in 2004, ie. immediately after the introduction of New Pension Scheme from 01-01-2004.
As mandated by Government, the 6th Central Pay Commission chaired by Rtd. Justice Sreekrishna has appointed Centre for Economic Study and Policy, Institute for Social and Economic Change (ISEC), Bangalore to suggest various options for suitable self-sustaining models to finance the pensions of Central Government employees with the final objective that funds so devised are able to meet substantially the entire pension liability of the Government ie; pension liability of employees and pensioners coming under the Old Pension Scheme (OPS) and to assess the financial liability that will need to be initially incurred by the Government for implementation of such self-sustaining models.
The Committee made the following recommendations -
“In case, the Government want to create a pension fund to discharge their entire pension liability (ie; the pension liability of Central Government employees and Pensioners coming under old Pension Scheme), the study by the Institute of Scoial and Economic Change (ISEC) reveals that the net present value of the projected pension liability is Rs.3,35,628 Crores; based on an assumed rate of return of 8 percent. A fund of this magnitude will help the Government to meet the pension payments from the returns of the fund and help avoid earmarking resources on an annual basis for the mounting pension outgo that takes place on account of Pay As You Go System (ie. old Pension System) that currently happens in each budget.”
Government has neither accepted this recommendation of 2006 of 6th Central Pay Commission nor rejected it. As ,the number of Old Pension Scheme pensioners and Old Pension Scheme Central Govt. employees are coming down every year, the Government may consider the proposal at the appropriate time. Thus, it may be seen that the chances of converting the existing OPS pensioners and OPS Central Government employees into pensioners getting pension from Pension fund is still hanging over their head ,as a democleus sword. Suppose the pensioners and employees coming munder the purview of Old Pension Scheme are brought under a Funded Pension Scheme, as explained earlier, by a Gazette notification by the Government, they will be governed by clauses and rules of PFRDA Act. Their pension will be from Pension fund. The amount of pension will depend upon the vagaries of share market. If Pension Fund collapse, there is no guarantee that they will get pension. Further, they will not be eligible for Dearness Relief, additional pension on attaining the age of 80 years, family pension if death takes place after retirement, pension revision based on the recommendations of Pay Commissions.
What shall we do and how we can overcome this situation?
There is no short cut before the Central Government employees and Central Government Pensioners, both NPS and OPS, to overcome this situation. Our social security is in danger. We have to mobilise and fight against these neo-liberal pension reforms. We should build up a mass movement. We should learn lessons from the farmers of India. Immediately on passing the farms reforms Acts, they spontaneously reacted. It is high time to organise, similar type of movement against NPS. Our one and the only demand should be “Scrap NPS and restore OPS” (ie; Scrap National Pension System mand restore Old Pension System). If 32 lakhs Central Government Employees and 33 lakhs Central Government Pensioners rally behind the demand and come to the street, no Government can ignore it. Along with the Central Government Employees and Pensioners, if we succeed in making the State Government employees and State Government Pensioner and Autonomous body employees and Pensioners, numbering about 150 lakhs also join the movement, it will become a force of about more than two crores in numbers and the Government will be compelled to Scrap NPS and restore OPS. Let us work together for such a mass movement of Employees & Pensioners. It is not impossible. If farmers can do it, we can also do.