Our Bureau

New Delhi, Oct 1

Old age pension would be available to all poor in the country from November 19 this year, the Union Finance Minister, Mr P. Chidambaram, has said.

Currently, old age pension of at least Rs 400 per month is given only to the destitute poor among the elderly. Of the Rs 400 pension, the Centre’s contribution is Rs 200 and the rest is from the State Government concerned.

“We are removing the criterion of ‘destitute’. Beginning November 19, old age pension would be available for all poor, whether they are destitute or not”, Mr Chidambaram said at a Help Age India function organised to celebrate the ‘International Day of Older Persons’ here today.

India has about 80 million elderly, of which 51 million are below the poverty line. Meanwhile, the Finance Minister expressed concern over the present system of delivery of goods and services to the poor, stating that it was completely outdated.

“We are in the process of ensuring that every poor pensioner under the national old age pension scheme has a post office account and the amount is automatically credited on the first of the month. He or she can access the account. Pilots are being run for this purpose”, Mr Chidambaram added. Besides post offices, he said that other ways of delivery would be found.

(This article was published in the Business Line print edition dated October 2, 2007)
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