The National Pension Scheme for Traders and Self-Employed Persons has failed to gain traction as only about 25,000 persons have opted for the scheme as against the government’s target to enrol 50 lakh by March-end.

As per government data, only 84 traders and self-employed persons from Delhi have registered for the scheme so far, while 59 persons from Kerala, 54 from Himachal Pradesh, 29 from Jammu and Kashmir and two from Goa have registered. No one has registered for the scheme in Lakshadweep and Mizoram.

Uttar Pradesh has the highest number of registrations with 6,765 persons, followed by Andhra Pradesh (4,781), Gujarat (2,915), Maharashtra (632), Bihar (583), Rajasthan (549), Tamil Nadu (309), Madhya Pradesh (305) and West Bengal (234).

The National Pension Scheme for Traders and Self Employed Persons (Pradhan Mantri Laghu Vyapari Maan-dhan Yojana) is a voluntary and contribution based central sector scheme. The government launched the scheme, entailing monthly minimum assured pension of Rs 3,000 for the entry age group of 18-40 years after attaining the age of 60 years, with effect from July 22, 2019.

Under the scheme, the government makes matching contribution in the subscribers’ account. Commenting on the lukewarm response to the scheme, Confederation of All India Traders (CAIT) Secretary General Praveen Khandelwal said the entry age and the premium for the scheme should be raised to encourage more traders to join the scheme.

“Rs 3,000 to be given after 30 years of paying premium will hardly have any value. Why have traders aged between 40 and 55 years been kept out of the scheme? The government can increase premium for this age group (40-55) instead of depriving them of the scheme’s benefits. These are two big drawbacks,” Khandelwal told PTI.

He said the traders’ body had suggested to the government that a provident fund like provision be made whereby a fund is created out of the total tax paid by a trader throughout his/her life, out of which every trader can be paid monthly pension upon attaining the age of 60.