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Government Employees Urge Restoration of Old Pension Scheme

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Government employees across the country are advocating for the revival of the Old Pension Scheme, expressing their dissent against the National Pension System (NPS). Simultaneously, the Reserve Bank of India, as the regulator of the banking sector, has released the ‘Handbook of Statistics on Indian States, 2022-23’, depicting the financial status of states across various sectors, including pension data.

Over 19 years, pension burdens surged by ₹4.26 trillion. According to data released by the RBI, the pension burden on states and union territories was ₹37,378 crore in the fiscal year 2004-05. This escalated nearly fourfold, reaching ₹1,83,499 crore in 2014-15. Subsequently, in the next nine years (2022-23), the pension burden skyrocketed by 152%, soaring to ₹4,63,437 crore. The burden on states surged from ₹37,378 crore in 2004-05 to ₹4,63,437 crore over the 19-year period, a staggering 1140% increase.

RBI’s Cautionary Note on Old Pension Scheme

These statistics affirm that a substantial portion of states’ revenue is allocated towards pensions. Previously, the RBI had cautioned against adopting the Old Pension Scheme in its bulletin, asserting that implementing OPS instead of NPS would increase the financial burden by 4.5 times. Several states, including Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, and Chhattisgarh under Congress governance, have reinstated the old pension plan. Congress has pledged to reinstate the scheme in Madhya Pradesh upon forming the government. Punjab’s Aam Aadmi Party government has also reinstated OPS in the state.

Government Pressures and Future Considerations

With the looming prospect of this becoming a significant issue in the upcoming Lok Sabha elections, the central government has constituted a committee, chaired by the finance secretary, to review the NPS. This committee is engaging with various stakeholders for deliberation. While the committee hasn’t arrived at a conclusion yet, it’s evident that after the reinstatement of some states’ Old Pension Schemes, the central government is under pressure. Government employees from different states have protested in Delhi’s Ramleela Maidan, voicing their dissent against the demand for the Old Pension Scheme.

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