Thursday, April 30, 2009
A planned nationwide two-day strike by 15,000 airport employees from Thursday midnight has been called off after the government agreed to discuss their grievances, a Civil Aviation Ministry spokesperson said.
"The strike, called by the employees of the Airports Authority of India (AAI), has been called off," the official said. The Airports Authority Employees` Union (AAEU) called for the strike to protest alleged retrenchment of temporary staff, forceful transfer of around 4,000 employees from Delhi and Mumbai airports to other smaller airports and compulsory retirement schemes.
All citizens of the country will be able to avail of pension facility from tomorrow, with the interim pension regulator Pension Fund Regulatory and Development Authority (PFRDA) confirming the scheduled launch of the mega pension plan in a statement today.
"The necessary infrastructure for the rollout of New Pension System (NPS) is now ready and it will be available to all citizens of India from May 1, 2009," PFRDA said.
Tier-I of NPS constituting non-withdrawable pension account will become operational from tomorrow and Tier-II (withdrawable account) of the NPS account will become operational in about six months.
Pension fund managers will manage three separate schemes, each investing in a different asset class. These asset classes are equity, government securities and credit risk-bearing fixed income instruments.
"On the basis of recommendations of the NPS Trust and on advice from the government, it has been decided that investment by an NPS participant in equity would be subject to a cap of 50 per cent," it said.
The authority has appointed 22 points of presence (PoP) and six pension fund managers. Branches of the registered PoPs, to be called PoP Service Providers, will be the contact and collection point for all citizens other than government employees wanting to obtain a Permanent Retirement Account Number (PRAN).
The investment will only be in index funds that replicate either BSE sensitive index or NSE Nifty 50 index. The subscriber will have the option to actively decide as to how the investment will be in the three asset classes.
In the event of the subscriber being unable or unwilling to decide, his contribution will be invested according to the 'auto choice' option, which is based on a predefined portfolio varying with the age of the subscriber.
The NPS architecture has been operational for central government employees for over a year now - since April 1, 2008, and the NPS corpus amounting to over Rs 2,100 crore stands invested in it.
"...The three pension funds have generated returns varying from 12 per cent to 16 per cent on the NPS corpus during the year 2008-09, weighted average return being over 14.5 per cent," PFRDA said citing unaudited results.
The states are at different stages of adopting NPS.
In August 2008, the government advised PFRDA to extend NPS, currently subscribed to by government employees, to all citizens on a voluntary basis.
Central government employees, who joined service on or after January 1, 2004, are covered under NPS. Unlike the old pension scheme, in NPS both employees and the employer (in this case, government) contributed an equal amount to the pension fund. Twenty-one states have also joined the scheme.
Supreme Court sets up panel for enhanced pay to lower courts judges
The Supreme Court today constituted a one-man committee headed by senior advocate E Padmanabham to make recommendations for increase in pay scales and allowances for judges of the lower judiciary.A bench of Chief Justice K G Balakrishnan and P Sathasivam said the committee would submit its report to the court by July 28, so that appropriate orders could be passed on it.
The bench passed the direction while dealing with an application moved by the All India Judges Association seeking enhanced pay structure to junior civil judges, senior civil judges, district judges (entry level), district judges (selection grade) and district judges (super time selection grade.
According to the Association, the enhanced pay structures had become necessary in terms of the Justice Shetty Committee recommendations (first national judicial pay commission) that the salary structures of these judges be revised upward whenever the salaries of the high court judges are enhanced.
Since the central government had in a notification issued on January 1, 2009, enhanced the salaries and allowances of High Court and Supreme Court judges, the revision in pay scales of lower court judges had also become necessary, the Association had contended, following which the apex court constituted the committee.
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