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Monday, October 19, 2009
New Pension Scheme Unacceptable
Below we reproduce the full text of the speech made by Dr Asim K Dasgupta, minister for finance and excise, government of West Bengal, at the conference with chief ministers and state finance ministers on ‘Issues related to Pension’:
WE appreciate the convening of this conference of chief ministers and state finance ministers on issues related to the New Pension Scheme and the Pension Fund Regulatory and Development Authority (PFRDA) Bill, 2005. It gives us an opportunity to express our views on a specially important aspect of social security in terms of pension for the government employees as well as other sections of working population of our country.
TWO PENSION SYSTEMS
For the government employees and others, such as teachers, employees of public undertakings, there has evolved over the years a social security scheme in terms of a defined benefit pension system. In this pension system, defined benefit in terms of 50 per cent of last salary (or average of last ten months’ salaries) drawn, commuted value of pension, gratuity, Dearness Relief etc. is ensured by the government. In West Bengal, the defined benefit pension system covers not only all state government employees, but also includes employees of state public undertakings, teachers and non-teaching staff of all state government-aided educational institutions from the primary to the university level as well as employees of the municipalities and the panchayats.
As against the, defined benefit pension system, a New Pension System (NPS) has been introduced by the government of India from January 1, 2004 for new entrants to services in the central government (other than the Armed Forces). This NPS means a shift from the defined benefit pension system to a defined contributory pension system. The new system works on defined contribution basis and has two tiers - Tier I and II. Contribution to Tier I is mandatory for all government employees (joining services from January 1, 2004), whereas contribution to Tier II is optional and at the discretion of the employees. In Tier I, the government employees have to make a contribution of 10 per cent of the basic pay plus dearness allowance which will be deducted from the salary bills. The government also has to make a matching contribution. Tier I contributions (and investment returns) are kept in a non-withdrawable Pension Tier I Account. Tier II contributions are kept in a separate account which is withdrawable at the option of the employee. In order to implement the scheme, there would be a Central Record Keeping Agency and several Pension Fund Managers to offer to the government employees, in the initial formulation, three categories of schemes A, B and C based on the proportion of investment in fixed income instruments and equities.
In order to give the NPS a statutory basis and to put in place a regulator with statutory powers, the union government introduced the Pension Fund Regulatory and Development Authority (PFRDA) Bill, 2005 and after obtaining the recommendations of the Standing Committee on Finance has now proposed an amendment to the Bill to (a) make available to subscribers a further option – ‘D’ of 100 per cent investment of their fund in government securities, (b) provide that at least one of the pension fund managers’ be a government company or owned by a government company or companies, and ( c) prohibit investment of fund of subscribers overseas.
It is important to note that on the issue of providing a government guarantee of the retirement benefit, the New Pension System states [in Clause 20(f) of the Bill] that “there shall not be any implicit or explicit assurance of benefits except market based guarantee mechanism to be purchased by the subscriber.”
Despite this critical absence of assurance of benefits in this new scheme, the Defined Contribution Pension System is sought to be introduced in place of the Defined Benefit Pension Scheme on the basis of three arguments: (a) financial unsustainability of the Defined Benefit Pension System, (b) lack of choice of schemes and fund managers in this pension system and (c) inadequate coverage beyond the employees and workers in the organised sector.
We present our views on each of three important points mentioned above, as well as loss and gain of the government and the employees from New Pension System.
FINANCIAL SUSTAINABILITY OF THE DEFINED BENEFIT PENSION SYSTEM
The union finance ministry has made an estimate of rise in pension expenditure and increase in the ratio of pension expenditure to tax revenue taking the entire period 1993-94 to 2004-05 as a whole, and indicated a compound growth rate of pension expenditure of around 21 per cent for the central government and 27 per cent for the states, and an increase in the ratio of pension expenditure to tax revenue from 9.7 per cent to 12.6 per cent for the central government and from 5.4 per cent to more than 10 per cent for the states in 2004-05. On the basis of trend rate of pension expenditure and tax revenue over this period (1993-94 to 2004-05) as a whole, the projection has been made for financial unsustainability in terms of rise in pension-tax revenue ratio.
If, however, instead of taking the data for the entire period from 1993-94 to 2004-05 as a whole, the relevant data are carefully noted for the recent years, then a different picture emerges. In recent years, after introduction of the Value Added Tax in the states, growth rate of tax revenue of the states has increased significantly –– from a historic rate of growth of 12 per cent of sales tax revenue to more than 20 per cent growth rate of VAT revenue. Moreover, rate of growth of pension has also started falling in recent years. For West Bengal, for instance, during the last three financial years, growth in pension expenditure has been generally below 10 per cent.
On the basis of large sample data, and using standard actuarial techniques and LIC life expectancy figures, we have made a projection of likely behaviour of the ratio of pension expenditure to tax revenue for the state of West Bengal. Even if an allowance is made for increase in pension expenditure after accommodating possible recommendations of Pay Commission, in a balanced manner in terms of a 15 per cent annual increase in pension bill (in place of about 10 per cent annual increase now), and the tax revenue is projected to grow at 18 per cent, then the ratio of pension expenditure to tax revenue will, in fact, steadily fall to 9.6 per cent in 30 years, i.e., in 2037. If the tax revenue is projected to grow at 20 per cent, then the pension-tax revenue ratio will steadily fall further to 5.7 per cent. In other words, on the basis of careful assumptions and appropriate steps on pension expenditure and tax revenue growth, financial sustainability of the Defined Benefit Pension System can indeed be ensured.
LOSS AND GAIN OF THE GOVERNMENT FROM THE NEW PENSION SCHEME
The state government has also worked out the estimated expenditure for payment of government’s contribution under the new pension scheme. It has been estimated on the basis of 100 per cent replacement rate that the state government’s expenditure on this account will be Rs 33 crore in the first year and will increase to Rs 2,495 crore in 22 years, in addition to the expenditure on account of existing pension scheme. These requirements will go on increasing for 33 years, assuming that the newly employed recruits will render 33 years of service before retirement. Therefore, for about 33 years, after the introduction of the new pension scheme, the total pension expenditure of the state government will keep on increasing at a very high rate. It is only after 33 years that the effect of the new pension scheme can be felt. The contribution under the New Pension Scheme will then become more or less steady except for inflation-related increases and the pension expenditure under the existing scheme will come down as there will be no net addition to the number of pensioners covered by the existing scheme.
There can be net saving under the New Pension Scheme only when the reduction in expenditure in relation to the projected expenditure under existing scheme is more than the contribution to be paid by the government. This can only happen some time after 33 years. There is, therefore, no gain to the government at least in a time horizon of about 33 years. In fact, during this period, the government will have to bear substantial, additional burden.
LOSS FOR EMPLOYEE FROM THE NPS
Now let us look at the new pension scheme from the point of view of the employees. There will clearly be a cut in the wages of employee to the extent of 10 per cent of pay including dearness allowance throughout his service. This is a loss to the employee in terms of wages. Let us see what happens to his pension. Let us take the case of a Group D employee who is recruited in the year 2007. We assume that the employee will retire in 2040 after rendering 33 years of service. As per existing scheme of the government, he will get movement to the first, second and third higher scales after 8, 16 and 25 years of service. Thus, if the employee does not get any promotion, his pay including dearness allowance will increase from Rs 4,446 per month to Rs 8,943 per month at the end of 33 years. We are not considering the effect of inflation on salary. At 2006-07 price, the employee would be entitled to the following retirement benefits under the existing scheme: -
i) Pension including pension - Rs 4,472 per month relief, before commutation (In West Bengal, at the rate of 50 per cent of last salary drawn)
ii) Gratuity - Rs 1,46,702
Let us assume that an employee contributes 10 per cent of his pay including dearness. allowance every month and the government makes an equal contribution. We also assume that the deposit earns a real rate of interest of 2 per cent per annum, with nominal rate of interest being appropriately higher depending on the rate of inflation. Now, if from the amount accumulated at the end of 33 years, the gratuity (to which he is entitled as per existing pension scheme) is paid off and the balance is converted into an annuity with survivor benefits, the employee would get an amount of Rs 3,600 per month, which is about 80 per cent of the pension he would have got under the existing scheme. In other words, the employee will lose 20 per cent of his existing retirement benefits if he comes under the new pension scheme. Moreover, the annuities are generally not inflation-indexed and therefore, the annuity will remain fixed throughout his life and the life of the survivor. This means that with increase in the cost of living index, the pension will fall further, unlike in the case of existing scheme in which an employee gets 100 per cent neutralisation for increase in the cost of living index through dearness relief. Thus, there is a serious loss to the employee in so far as his retirement benefits are concerned in addition to the loss that. He has suffered through effective wage-reduction during his service.
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Dearness Allowance for workmen and officer employees in banks - Aug Sep Oct 2009
Appropos the news item in The Hindu on October 6 regarding functioning of C.G.H.S., I would like to add that for ailments coming under cardiac, neuro, E.N.T., ortho, diabetology, and so on, the CGHS beneficiaries have to go to State government general hospitals for getting opinion even though there are few approved referral hospitals. Retired pensioners who are aged and are not independent have to go to government hospitals and stand in a queue for hours to get the OP tickets for getting the advice for treatment and management.
Recently, the Union government has also increased the subscription rates for serving/retired Central government employees ranging from Rs. 50/- to Rs. 500/- per month according to the pay of pensioners. When the CGHS beneficiaries have paid the subscription prescribed by the Union government, why should they be referred to government hospitals?
The powers to refer the C.G.H.S. beneficiaries should be restored to CMOs in charge of the respective dispensaries.
Source: The Hindu
Yes. It is very necessary to change this system. My mother is an rheumatic arthritis patient. Once in every three months CGHS will refer her to GH for reference. In GH ortho dept. starting time is 8'o clock, but at 8'o clok itselt we can see a large queue and we have to stand in the queue for hours to consult the doctor. We are paying CGHS subscription. Some of the CGHS approved referral hospital are specialised in Cardiac, Ortho, ENT etc. We have to approach Govt. to issue an order to go to CGHS approved referrel hospitals for getting specialised opinion for the above long standing diseases.
definitely. This is the biggest shortcoming. Without 'specialist' recommendation, one would not get anything and the 'specialist' is sitting only in a government hospital. Depite paying heavy monthly subscription, the government, in the name of providing health facilities, make the person visit government hospitals which are already filled up with the visitors from neighbouring states.Recently, I am having continuous headache. The doctor at CGHS dispensary straightaway referred to a government hospital. Now, I am suffering since last month and gathering courage to visit the government hospital.
HOPE THE POLICY MAKERS UNDERSTAND AND REMOVE THIS BOTTLENECK.
Mr.Murthy said... It is needless to mention again and again by various employees that the system of referral to State Govt Hospital to be stopped since the existence or birth of CGHS Dispensary & other recognised private hospital came because of inadequacy of facilities and various other reasons wherein the government employee could not be put into inconvenience or no proper treatment. It is rediculous to refer the govt employee/dependents to the state govt hospital wherein it is everybody's knowledge that there are no proper facilities or the procedure is time consuming. It is again the same Doctor (MBBS)house surgeon who is not eexperienced much doing trails & errors on helpless patients, is looking into patient complaints and prescribing certain tests and other medicines. Therefore, CMO who is having good experience, should refer the matter to the recognised hospitals wherein clear indication of further professional treatement is required instead of State Govt Hospital. The discretionary powers are already vested with CMO which are conveniently misused without applying their mind. The Director/Asst Director is failed to take stock the situation inspite of several complaints because he is part of the stream. Generally, nobody is giving complaint in writing because the doctor may not like and future treatement is depending upon the same CMO and patient has no choice to see other doctor as is the case with CSMA. Therefore, it is high time to take decission of the competent authority to remove discretionary powers either to send state govt hospital or private recognised hospital since the present CMO's are not applying the mind and mechanically referring to state govt hospital without humanity. There should be a clause wherein the doctor is accountable for all the suffering due to transportation, time and mental agony because of their referral to state govt hospital wherein admission to hospital/or futher treatment/investigation was required and then it was referred to private hospital even though it is well known before referrring to state govt hospital.
In view of the above, the govt in consultation with the employees should study and make responsible the CMO posts who are whiling away their time and avoiding responsiblity by just referring the patient to State Govt Hospital
The human resource development ministry has decided to exempt differently abled students from tuition fees at Kendriya Vidyalayas across India for the first time to thwart potentially embarrassing protests against a recent fee hike.
HRD minister Kapil Sibal has approved a Kendriya Vidyalaya Sangathan proposal to completely exempt students with disabilities from tuition fees and a special levy charged for school development, top KVS officials have told The Telegraph.
The KVS, which runs the central school chain, today issued a notification to its schools declaring this decision, sources said.
The exemption will cover students with any disability listed in the Persons with Disabilities (Equal opportunities) Act.
The act at present lists blindness, “low vision”, leprosy, hearing impairments, locomotor disabilities, mental retardation and mental illness as ailments. The government is planning to amend the law to include other disabilities.
Students will need to provide a certificate from a medical board or a government hospital, testifying that they are suffering from “not less than 40 per cent” of the particular disability.
Ministry sources confirmed that the decision to exempt disabled children from tuition fees and contribution to a Vidyalaya Vikas Nidhi — a fund for central school development — was taken in the face of a growing protest.
The KVS has received several representations from disabled students and their parents, and even activists have protested the recent fee hike.
The decision comes soon after Sibal faced an embarrassing hitch while tabling the right to education bill in Parliament, with activists alleging that the present legislation discriminated against disabled children.
UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh intervened, asking Sibal to personally assure the activists that disabled students would benefit from clauses aimed at helping backward sections.
“This was threatening to turn into a similar thorn in the ministry’s flesh. Exempting disabled students from fees ends the possibility of such protests,” a source said.
Till now, the central schools had been charging a tuition fee of Rs 40 a month for students of Classes IX and X, and Rs 50 per month for students of Classes XI and XII.
All girls, Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribe students, wards of soldiers injured or killed in action, and all boys till Class VIII are at present exempt from tuition fees.
All students till Class X — and non-science students in Classes XI and XII — are at present charged Rs 160 a month for the school development fund, which does not exempt any student.
Science students in Classes XI and XII are charged Rs 200 per month for the fund.
But earlier this month, the Kendriya Vidyalayas decided to raise their fees. They announced tuition fees of Rs 200 a month till Class VIII, raising the amount to Rs 300 for commerce and humanities and Rs 400 for science students in Classes XI and XII.
The contribution towards the school development fund was raised to Rs 240 a month for students till Class X and non-science students of Classes XI and XII. The contribution was hiked to Rs 300 a month for science students in Classes XI and XII.
The new fee structure retained the existing exemptions from tuition fees while continuing to enforce the school development contribution from all students.
Now, disabled students will join the list of pupils exempt from paying tuition fees and will become the first segment of students who will not need to contribute to the school development fund.