NPS Committee an Eye Wash, Our Demand Is to Restore Old Pension Scheme, Says C. Srikumar, General Secretary, All India Defence Employees Federation (AIDEF)

 

Reproduction of interview held by www.indianpsu.com

 

WWW.INDIANPSU.COM holds a detailed Question – Answer session with the senior trade union leader
April 8, 2023

Based on the announcement made by the Finance Minister in the Parliament on 24th March, 2023 the Ministry of Finance has issued a notification constituting a Committee under the Chairmanship of Finance Secretary with Secretary of Department of Personnel & Training (DoPT), Special Secretary of Department of Expenditure and Chairman of PFRDA as Members. No representatives of the employees’ organizations are included in the Committee. Even the copy is not endorsed to the Central Government Employees Organizations.

The Committee is given the following Terms of References:

  1. Whether in the light of the existing framework and structure of the National Pension System (NPS), as applicable to Government employees, any changes therein are warranted;
  2. If so, to suggest such measures as are appropriate to modify the same with a view to improving upon the pensionary benefits of Government employees covered under the National Pension System, keeping in view the fiscal implications and impact on overall budgetary space, so that fiscal prudence is maintained to protect the common citizens.

No time limit has been given to the Committee to submit its Report.

Employees organizations are not happy with this Committee as the formation of this Committee is not in tune with their demand. It is not clear that whether the Committee will consult the Unions and whether the Committee will include the employees’ representatives of both Central and State Government employees in the Committee.

To know the reaction of the employees’ organizations, www.indianpsu.com approached C. Srikumar, General Secretary, AIDEF, with certain questions. He responded to our questions and his views on the NPS Committee is published here.

Question – What are your views on the NPS Committee constituted by the Government?

C. Srikumar – This NPS Committee constituted by the Government is nothing but an eye wash. There was no demand from any corner for improvement in the NPS. The demand of the government employees both Central and State is to scrap the no guarantee NPS and to restore the defined and guaranteed Old Pension Scheme (OPS). The Government may be keeping in mind the Karnataka Assembly Elections and the forthcoming Parliament Elections for setting up this Committee, just to divert the attention and to dodge the employees. After the recommendations of the 7th Central Pay Commission also the same Government has constituted a Committee with the Pension Secretary as Chairman. The Staff Side of the National Council (JCM), IAS Association and IPS Association also appeared before the Committee and proved with data and figures that NPS is a disaster to the employees after retirement, since the Pension from NPS is nowhere near the Pension under OPS. The Committee assured that it will make appropriate recommendation and its Report is so far not spared with the employees’ organizations. Despite our demand for a copy, the Government has not spared the same. Therefore, the present NPS Committee also is not expected to do any justice to the Government employees, considering its limited scope given in the Terms of Reference.

Question – What will be your approach towards the present NPS Committee?

C. Srikumar – Since we are in a Joint Forum for Restoration of Old Pension Scheme (JFROPS) under the banner of National Joint Council of Action (NJCA), we have to collectively take a decision about our approach towards this NPS Committee.

Question – What do you expect from this Committee?

C. Srikumar – Our demand as I have already told is not for improvement in the NPS, rather we stick to our demand that the no guarantee NPS should be scrapped and the defined and guaranteed Old Pension Scheme should be restored. Rather, AIDEF right from 2003, has taken a clear position that any contributory Pension scheme which depends on the juggleries of the market will be a failure and the employees will be the ultimate victim and hence we have rejected the NPS. How can we expect anything from this NPS Committee, when its Terms of Reference is restricted to NPS only.

Question – The Government always claims that Pension is a big burden on the economy of our country, how do you react on this?

C. Srikumar – The Government which has written off more than Rs. 10 lakh crores of loan taken by the Corporates in the last 5-6 years from Public Sector Banks is not ashamed to make such a statement that Pension is a burden on the exchequer. Supreme Court has clearly ruled, Pension is not a gift, Pension is not a bounty and Pension is a fundamental right of the Government employees. In fact, every Pay Commission fix the Pay Scale and other benefit keeping in mind the Pension to be paid to the employees. Therefore, there is no justification on the statement of the Government that the Pension is a burden. These types of statements are repeatedly made by the Government only when the issues of Government employees and pensioners are discussed. Government has illegally frozen 18 months DA Arrears of the Central Government Employees. While the 5th and 6th Central Pay Commission has given 40% Fitment Benefit, the 7th Central Pay Commission has not even given 13% Fitment Benefit. Parliamentary Standing Committee recommendations on Pensioners are also not accepted by the Government. Government employees and pensioners are always target of the Government. Even now the Pension of the BSNL retirees is not revised by the Government and BSNL pensioners are running from pillar to post at their old age for getting their Pension revised. It is the responsibility of any sensitive Government to ensure that it’s Senior Citizens and that too its own employees live a decent and dignified retired life. We will continue to fight and the struggle is spreading all over the country to restore the guaranteed and defined Old Pension Scheme and we are confident we will achieve the same.

Question – The Central Government and PFRDA have warned the State Governments that their contribution to the NPS Scheme will not be returned back if they restore Old Pension Scheme. What’s your view on this?

C. Srikumar – The PFRDA which is the Authority to maintain the National Pension System Funds is maintaining the employees’ contribution and the Government contribution separately. In fact, in the case of certain NPS employees, who were allowed to opt for Old Pension Scheme based on certain Supreme Court Judgments, in their case the employees’ contribution was credited in the GPF Account of the employees, the Government’s contribution is returned back to the Government’s account. Therefore, this warning of the Central Government to the State Governments are legally not tenable. How can a Government claim that the country is a fast-growing economy when the same Government is refusing to pay a guaranteed and defined Pension for its own employees. The Government employees and their Unions are bent upon to achieve Old Pension Scheme. Present Government is not prepared to accept their demand. The fight will go on in the days to come.

 

 

Subscribe
Notify of
guest
0 Comments
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments