Andhra Pradesh: We won’t accept anything less than the old pension scheme, say employee outfits

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The government’s proposal to roll out the ‘best pension scheme’ doesn’t cut the ice with them

The government’s proposal to roll out the ‘best pension scheme’ doesn’t cut the ice with them

Unimpressed with the “best pension” proposal the government intends to present to them over the next three months, state government employee associations are trying to band together and strengthen their position in the fight against implementation of the new pension plan.

Repeated efforts by the government to break the impasse have not yielded the desired result, with representatives of the Joint Action Committee (JAC) of employees making it clear that they will only come to the table if the talks focus on the restoration of the old pension scheme (OPS ).

CPS or GPS

The government, on the other hand, insists that the choice be made between the Contributory Pension Scheme (CPS) and the Guaranteed Pension Scheme (GPS), an improved form of the CPS with some additional benefits.

To counter the government’s assertion that PAHO is not financially viable, the associations cite the cases of the governments of Rajasthan and Chhattisgarh which re-established PAHO.

“Rajasthan has the largest number of CPS employees (4.96 lakh) with the largest holdings of assets under management (₹25,000 crore as of March 2020) among all the states in the country, and yet it has returned to l OPS, as does Chhattisgarh, which has a number of CPS employees almost equivalent to that of Andhra Pradesh. Delhi has also passed a resolution to restore the PAHO”, points out N. Prasad, Secretary General of the Andhra Pradesh Secretariat Association.

Seriously concerned about the shortcomings of the CPS, or New Pension Scheme (NPS), workers argue that the government’s calculations are “unrealistic” and that the implementation of the OPS will result in no money being deducted from expenditures for the development of the state and the welfare of its people.

Options given by the Tucker panel

A 2019 state government-appointed expert panel on the CPS, led by former chief secretary SP Tucker, recommended two options. First, revert to OPS, which would be the prerogative of the state government and second, introduce an upgraded version of CPS that facilitates retirement almost on par with OPS.

But the government raised their hands due to “severe financial constraints”, and the group of ministers, comprising Botcha Satyanarayana, Buggana Rajendranath Reddy and A. Suresh, ministers of Education, Finance and Municipal Administration respectively , proposed the GPS, which offers a guaranteed pension (an assured income of 33% of the last basic salary), health insurance which will provide health insurance coverage under the employee health plan (EHS), 60 % of guaranteed pension towards family security under family pension, a minimum of ₹10,000 under the minimum pension and coverage of up to ₹50 lakh for family security under life insurance .

Ministers tried to convince JAC leaders by assuring them that the government was ready to add more benefits such as Employee Health Scheme (EHS), accidental death and disability cover ( early retirement), family pension and minimum pension.

But the employees are nonchalant.

“The amount indicated for the pension offered by the government is fixed. Dearness Relief (DR) key components and assembly are excluded. All employee associations are on the same page when it comes to the implementation of DR and equipment,” says Mr. Das, PA State Chairman CPS Udyogula Sangham, adding that even if the volume of pensions is kept at a low level, a periodic increase should be considered to ensure the well-being of employees.

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