Pension hike a Centre?s gift; State share nil | india | Hindustan Times
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Pension hike a Centre?s gift; State share nil

THE MADHYA Pradesh Government has not borne a single paisa of the additional burden in the hike of social security pension from Rs 150 to Rs 275, which was approved by the Cabinet on Tuesday.

india Updated: Jan 04, 2007 16:37 IST

THE MADHYA Pradesh Government has not borne a single paisa of the additional burden in the hike of social security pension from Rs 150 to Rs 275, which was approved by the Cabinet on Tuesday.

Pensioners have the Centre to thank for the Rs 125 per person hike. Had the State Government contributed its 50 per cent share in the grant, the amount of social security pension per person would have risen to Rs 400.

While there seems to be some confusion within the government over the issue, the Opposition has slammed the hike as mere
eyewash.

Parliamentary Affairs Minister Narottam Mishra, in a briefing to newspersons about the Cabinet meeting, had claimed that the hike would entail an additional burden of Rs 107.05 crore on the State exchequer. However, Principal Secretary Finance Sumit Bose admitted the State Government had not increased its contribution. “There is no hike in the State’s contribution to the social security pension,” he told Hindustan Times.

Also, the number of beneficiaries of the pension hike is around 4.15 lakh and not 11.43 lakh, as claimed by the State Government. Over 6.56 lakh pensioners in the 60-65 years category will continue to get pension at the old rate of Rs 150 per month.

During the Cabinet meeting, some officials of the Social Justice Department had pleaded the case for matching hike in the State Government’s contribution in the pension. They argued that since 1995 the amount of social security pension had remained unchanged while the rupee had devalued considerably. However, the Cabinet ignored their pleas.

Union Rural Development Ministry had increased its share in the pension in April last year, but the State Government continued to dither due to its financial implications. Union Finance Ministry had released the Centre’s share and directed the State Government to distribute pension from August 1, 2006.

In matching the Centre’s grant for pension, the State would have had to bear an additional burden of nearly Rs 259 crore - Rs 196.95 crore on increasing pension for beneficiaries in 60-65 years and Rs 62.32 crore in above-65 category. The Centre does not offer matching grant for pension to the 60-65 years category pensioners.

As the issue hung fire, Joint Secretary in the Union Rural Development Ministry Nilam Sawhney wrote to the State Government requesting it to increase its share in the social security pension. Subsequently, State Social Justice Department Minister Rampal Singh announced that the MP Government would increase its contribution to the pension.

The Minister even promised a hike in pension to both categories- 60-65 years and above 65 years. Leader of the Opposition Jamuna Devi has described the hike in the pension as mere eyewash. In a statement she said the State Cabinet’s decision to raise the pension amount was a deception, as the government had not increased its share.

She demanded that the State Government contribute its 50 per cent matching grant in the social security pension and prove its commitment to the poor.