OWING TO differences between the Finance and Social Empowerment Departments on the issue of hiking pension for elderly people in the 60-65 age group, the issue will now be put up before the State Cabinet for a decision.
The Finance Department has consented to enhance the State’s contribution for social security pension in the above 65 age group from Rs 75 to Rs 200 but refused a similar hike for pensioners in 60-65 age group who are presently getting pension at the rate of Rs 150 per month. State and the Centre chip in 50 per cent each for social security pension amount.
The Finance Department’s recommendation will deprive over 6.5 lakh pensioners benefit of increase. “We are taking up the issue of hiking pension in both the categories before the Cabinet for decision,” Principal Secretary, Social Justice department, Dr Bhagirath Prasad told Hindustan Times.
As per the calculation by the Social Empowerment Department an additional burden of Rs 196.95 crore will be incurred on increasing pension of below 65 years category and Rs 62.32 crore on increasing pension above 65 years category.
Finance Department sources said hike in the 60-65 years category is not recommended because the entire burden of increasing pension (approximately Rs 200 crore) will have to be borne by the State. For this category of pensioners, Union Government provides no financial assistance.
Ironically, the State Government is yet to start disbursing enhanced pension to above 65 years category despite the fact that the Union Government has already released its contribution with the directive to distribute enhanced pension from August onwards. On this Dr Prasad said the process of distribution of enhanced pension will start soon after Government resolve the issue of below 65 years category.