Kerala govt issues participatory pension notification making a joke of review panel

Kerala govt issues participatory pension notification making a joke of review panel

Thiruvananthapuram: The Kerala government has decided to go ahead with the participatory pension scheme and issued a notification even as a committee it had appointed is in the midst of reviewing the plan.

The state government launched the participatory pension scheme for public sector undertakings on April 1, 2013. It said that those who joined service from that date would not be eligible for statutory pension.

However, the government did not issue a notification saying the central pension fund (PFRDA) would be applicable to those opting for the participatory pension scheme. Many approached the court questioning the implementation of the scheme without the notification.

Following this, the finance department issued a gazette notification on Friday stating that all those appointed after the participatory pension order was issued would be part of that scheme.

Now steps are afoot to approve the notification received by the Legislative Subject Committee. About 1.50 lakh people in government departments and 34 public sector undertakings will be covered under the participatory pension scheme.

A review of the scheme was one of the main promises of the Left Front before the last Assembly elections. But the Front came under a lot of pressure from employees when its government took no action after coming to power.

Subsequently, the government appointed a three-member committee under the chairmanship of retired district judge S Satish Chandrababu in November 2018 to review the pension plan. The committee members were paid a salary of Rs 75,000 and Rs 50 lakh was also spent on setting up an office for them.

The Supreme Court has ruled that those appointed after the launch of the scheme in vacancies that were advertised before the order was issued would be entitled to the statutory pension.

When employees approached court for the implementation of the Supreme Court verdict, the finance ministry said the review committee has been asked to decide on the matter. However, this is not one of the things listed for the committee’s consideration.

In Kerala, employees are required to contribute 10% of their salary to the participatory pension scheme, with the state government making an equal contribution. At the Centre, the employees’ share has been kept at 10% while the government contributes 14% of their salary towards the pension scheme.

Pension ranges from Rs 100 to Rs 587

Those who retired after joining in the participatory pension scheme get a pension ranging from Rs 100 to Rs 587. This is when social welfare pensioners get a much higher Rs 1,300.

Currently, there are 79 who were part of the scheme and have retired. A retired employee is eligible for a pension only if the invested amount is a minimum of Rs 2 lakh. So, of the 79 people, 36 have no pension.

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