No going back on proposal: Chandy

Talks between the State government and employee unions on the proposed participatory pension scheme failed here on Thursday after the latter walked out.

The unions stated they would go ahead with the plan to strike work on August 27 in protest against the proposal.

‘NO GOING BACK’

This came about after Chief Minister Oommen Chandy made it clear that there was no going back on the proposal.

He had also said that the government proposed to apprise the Central government about follow-up moves, including fixing a guaranteed minimum pension amount.

The new pension scheme is scheduled to be implemented from April 1, 2013.

It merely involves taking a proposal announced by the predecessor administration to its logical conclusion, the Chief Minister said.

A similar scheme has already been made applicable for all-India service personnel and the pension fund for universities in the State.

In a write-up released for publication, Chandy sought to justify the decision to introduce the scheme for new recruits joining government service.

INTERESTS PROTECTED

The new scheme would not only ensure interests of existing pensioners but also of the new recruits joining service.

“This is an imaginative proposal in order that the State readies itself to face up to the threat of financial bankruptcy from paying pension to the huge army of personnel retiring from service.”

The Chief Minister put the relative numbers in perspective. Pensioners have already outnumbered government employees in the State.

Currently, there are 5.34 lakh government employees as against 5.50 lakh pensioners, the Chief Minister said.

DEBT-STRESSED

Nearly 20,000 are retiring from service every year. In the last 11 years, the outflow on account of pensions have jumped from Rs1,838 crore to Rs 8,178 crore.

High expenditure on pension, salary, and interest payments have already proved a drag on the debt-stressed State, forcing it to borrow even for routine spending. Investments in those areas with a potential to create jobs is the need of the hour. But this was not taking place due to the strain on financial resources.

Participatory pension is being seen as a practical move that would help the State spend a reasonable portion of its meagre income for productive purposes.

vinson.kurian@thehindu.co.in

(This article was published on August 16, 2012)
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