Himachal Pradesh: Cong honors election promise, maintains old pension scheme

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The Sukhvinder Singh Sukhu-led Congress government in Himachal Pradesh fulfilled its promise ahead of last year’s Assemmbly polls. The state government approved the reintroduction of the old pension scheme at Friday’s first cabinet meeting.

It should be noted that there are 1.36 lakh employees in total, including employees and pensioners under the New Pension Scheme (NPS). The Congress party had promised in the first cabinet meeting to restore the Old Pension Scheme (OPS) and stuck to it.

The benefit of the old pension scheme would be given from today and the notice about it would be issued soon, Sukhu said while interacting with the media after the cabinet meeting.

He said we would keep our promise to provide 1,500 a month to women and a subcommittee comprising cabinet ministers including Chander Kumar, Dhani Ram Shandil, Anirudh Singh and Jagat Negi has been set up to prepare a roadmap for the disbursement of 1,500 per month in 30 days.

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A committee has also been set up to explore the possibility for one lakh jobs.

The liability under the OPS for this year is approx 800 to 900 crores which would be carried by the mobilization of resources such as an increase in 3 on VAT on diesel.

Sukhu reiterated that the state government has not reinstated OPS for votes, but for giving social security and ensuring the self-respect of the workers who made Himachal’s development history.

The issue has been thoroughly studied and despite some reservations from finance officials, the issue has been resolved and all employees under the new pension plan would be covered by OPS, he added.

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Sukhu said the previous BJP government was not worth arrears 11,000 crores approximately, inclusive 4,430 crores in employees, 5,226 crores to retirees and 1,000 crores dearness allowance from sixth pay commission.

Sukhu also said that the state is in debt 75,000 crores due to financial mismanagement and profligate spending by the previous BJP government.

The government has withdrawn a total of more than 900 institutions opened without budget by the previous BJP government It took 5,000 crores to make them functional. Hard decisions would have to be made as the government cannot be under massive debt, he added.

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Employees who enter government service from 1 January 2004 are covered by the New Pension Policy (NPR).

The new pension scheme is a non-contributory scheme in which the government and employees respectively contribute 10 and 14 percent of the salary to the pension fund, while in the old pension scheme employees with 20 years of service received 50 percent of the last salary taken as a pension.

“We had informed the government that the liability for 2022-23 falls under the NPS 1,632 crores from which employees and government would deposit 680 crores and 952 crores, while the liability would be under the OPS alone 147 crores,” said Pradeep Thakur, chairman of New Pension Scheme Employees Federation Himachal.

(with PTI inputs)

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