Thursday, November 26, 2015

New Pension Scheme(NPS) : Analysis of the Issues by the 7th Pay Commission

New Pension Scheme : Analysis of the Issues by the 7th Pay Commission

10.3.12 The Commission has examined these concerns raised by the stakeholders. The Commission also interacted with Chairman, PFRDA, and representatives of the Department of Pensions and Pensioners Welfare (DPPW), Department of Personnel and Training (DoPT), Department of Expenditure (DoE) and the Department of Financial Services (DFS).

10.3.13 In so far as the future value of pension under NPS is concerned, the Commission notes that this would depend upon a combination of factors:

(i) performance of the invested fund, which in turn would depend on the asset mix of the investment and general economic situation of the country,
(ii) cost of financial intermediation,
(iii) contribution rates,
(iv) period of contribution,
(v) performance of the fund manager and
(vi) development of the annuity market.

Grievances against the NPS

The NPS has now been in effect for over 10 years. During this period, there has been perceptible progress in putting together the architecture and providing information to subscribers. Major concerns, however, remain. Broadly, these are as under:

i. The larger federations and staff associations advocated scrapping the NPS on the ground that it discriminates between two sets of government employees.

ii. Individuals covered under NPS have pleaded for reverting to the OPS on the grounds of uncertainty regarding the actual value of their future pension in the face of market related risks.

iii. Individuals have pointed out that under NPS, the effective salary becomes less since the employee has to mandatorily contribute 10 percent of pay towards the pension fund.

iv. Individuals have stated that grievance redressal facility is not effective and consultation with stakeholders has been non-existent. This communication gap has generated insecurity in the minds of stakeholders including staff and Group ‘A’ officers of Central Government as well as All India Service Officers.

v. Associations have complained that Family Pension after the death of the employee is not ensured in the NPS. Moreover, if an employee dies at an early age, the family would suffer since annuity from the contribution would be grossly inadequate.

vi. Individuals have complained that NPS subscribers have no recourse to GPF for their savings. Their personal savings (10% of salary) are considered part of a larger corpus. It has been pointed out that the justify approach would be to consider only government’s contribution and the returns earned on it as the effective amount available for purchase of annuities.

vii. Associations have pointed out that unlike the facility under GPF, it is not possible to take refundable advances under NPS, even to meet obligatory social expenditure. This forces employees towards increased indebtedness as they have to borrow from elsewhere.

viii. Grievances also relate to tax treatment under NPS. While contributions and accumulations in NPS are exempt, lump sum withdrawals from NPS at any time are taxable at par with any other income. In addition, there is a service tax liability on any amount utilised for purchase of annuity.

ix. It has been pointed out that though NPS became effective from 2004, detailed instructions were issued only in late 2009 and in many cases the credit of contributions began from 2012. In the case of AIS officers in some States, contributions by the concerned State Government are yet to be fully made and deployed. The net result of this has been that contributions for the period 2004-2012 have not been made in full or have earned simple interest and did not get any market linked returns. Because of the prevailing confusion, contributions made by some AIS officer have been returned to them without interest. This will have a huge impact on the eventual corpus as the benefits of compounding were not available for the first 8 -9 years.

x. Individuals, in their presentation before the Commission, stated that annuities under NPS have no compensation for inflation unlike dearness relief under OPS. Further, in the case of OPS there is a revision in basic pension itself after every Pay Commission. This too is not available in respect of annuity of NPS subscribers.

xi. It has been pointed out that government employees are not given freedom of choice in choosing their fund manager based on performance and track record as the contributions are divided in a pre-specified ratio among selected Pension Fund Managers. It has been stated that government employees have no say in asset allocation of their money.

xii. Concerns were raised that the contribution of 10% + 10% will not be sufficient to create a corpus which provides reasonable assurance that pension will be 50 percent of the last pay drawn.

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7th Pay Commission Recommendations on LTC Advance and Medical Advance

7th Pay Commission Recommendations on LTC Advance and Medical Advance

Abolishing 12 Interest free advances recommended by 7th CPC

The 7th Pay Commission has , in a casual manner, recommended that all interest free advances to be abolished. The impact of this recommendation is yet un noticed by the central government employees

There are 12 Interest free advances are listed in that table provided in the 7th CPC Report. When hearing the news that 7th cpc has recommended to abolish interest free advances , every body thought that some advances like festival advances only will be abolished. But if you read the names of advances recommended for abolishment, it will give you little bit shock.

In general opinion, the amount that is paid for government servants in some occasions and for specific purposes and the same will be recovered through monthly instalments are considered advances.

But the advance paid for Medical treatment and LTC are not supposed to be included this list, since it is reimbursable in nature and will not be recovered by Government.

The amount paid as advances to the Medical treatment and LTC are not recoverable by government if there is no any default in the claim. since the expenses incurred should be reimbursed to the Govt servants according to their entitlements, the amount paid in advance can be adjusted against the claim of reimbursement is sanctioned. So there is no need of repaying the advance to government in respect of Medical and LTC advances.These should not be included in the list of interest free advances.

Eventually abolishing these advances will make the central government employees not to avail LTC facility and medical treatment in Private hospital, since the amount of 90 % of the expenses paid in advance will not be available for them any more due to this recommendation. By availing this advances they were able to manage the Medical Expenses and by availing this advance only they were able to bye Air or Train Tickets to go on LTC.

Without these advances, the Group C and B employees cannot imagine availing of LTC to visit some places in India with their family.

The Central Government should not accept the proposal of Abolishing these advances.

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Briefcase Allowance of 7th Pay Commission

Briefcase Allowance of 7th Pay Commission

8.17.5 Certain categories of Central Government employees are entitled to reimbursement of expenditure incurred on purchase of briefcase/official bag/ladies’ purse as per the following provisions:

                            Pay Band/GP                                    Ceiling (Rs.)
                                  Apex                                       10000
                             HAG, HAG+                                        8000
                              GP 10000                                        6500
                      GP 7600 to GP 8700                                 5000
                      GP 4800 to GP 6600                                 4000
                      GP 4200 to GP 4600                                 3500

8.17.6 The periodicity of reimbursement is restricted to once in three years. No demands have been received regarding this allowance.

Analysis and Recommendations

8.17.7 The Commission is of the view that the present rates are adequate However, the ceiling shall further increase by 25 percent each time DA increases by 50 percent

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7th Pay Commission Shortcomings – BPS writes to FM

Bharat Pensioners Samaj, one of the oldest & the largest Federation of Indian pensioners writes to Finance Minister regarding the recommendations of 7th Pay Commission. The Federations insists to redress the eight serious shortcomings in the recommendations of 7th CPC. Particularly in the fitment factor issue, the Federation appeal to provide 2.81 fitment benefit for all employees without any discrimination. Read the detailed letter is reproduced and given below for your kind information…

BPS writes to Finance Minister pointing out 7th CPC shortcomings.

(All India Federation of Pensioner’s Associations)
New Delhi -110014

SG/BPS/ 10/2015

New Delhi-Dt. 25-11-15

Dear Shri Arun Jaittleyji,
Honourable Minister of Finance
Government of India

Subject : 7th Central Pay Commission report released on 19.11.2015

With deep resentment and pain BHARAT PENSIONERS SAMAJ( BPS) the oldest & the largest Federation of Indian pensioners which is a conglomerate of over 650 Pensioners Associations appeal to you to redress the following issues which 7th CPC failed address:

1. Ratio between minimum and maximum: Instead of reducing it is raised which is against the preamble of the Constitution of Indian Republic.

2. Minimum salary has been intentionally calculated to be lower to keep common fitment factor low. Counting employees’ wife as 0.80 unit is gender biase and is totally unjustified. Quantities & rates taken for the items in basket are unrealistic for example Rs 524.07 per month is provided Even the lowest category of Govt. accommodation is not available at this rate. Similarly rate of ‘Dal’ is taken to be 97.84 per Kg. No ‘ Dal‘ is or was available in the market at this rate. Quantity of Milk is taken to be 200 ml per unit per day which is too little for a vegetarian rate of Milk is taken to be Rs 37.40 per Kg which is lower than market rate.

3. According to 7th CPC 2.57 fitment factor is for all employees. But, in fact. 2.81 fitment has been given at Secy level. This is robbing Peter to pay Paul, violative of CPC own recommendation and that of Article 14 of the constitution of India. 2.81 fitment benefit should be provided to all employee without any discrimination.

4. Raising percentage of pension based on sustenance: Analysis given by CPC is silent on sustenance this is unjustified rejection.

5.OROP recommended by 7th CPC for all. But through the jugglery of pay matrix, for promotee officers and group ‘C.‘ it will end up only in modified parity. This needs rectification to ensure absolute parity for all.

6. Additional pension at 75 yrs of age is denied only because Defence Ministry did not agree this is rather absurd. If Defence Ministry does not want to have it, let them not have it. Why make others suffer on this account?

7. Medical facilities : While the Commission’s recommendations regarding merging of all postal dispensaries with CGHS dispensaries and inclusion of non CGHS covered postal Pensioners are welcome.

However, its recommendations regarding Health insurance for pensioners do not suit existing pensioners on account of no coverage of existing disease without lock-in period, no provision of OPD facility , payment of premium and less amount of coverage.

Undersigned, wish to draw your kind attention to para 9.5.18 (iii) of the 7th CPC and request you to create without delay a combined entity of CGHS, ECHS-RELHS which in terms of 7th CPC would result in a very strong network of health facilities for the Central Government employees/pensioners across the length and breadth of the country.

8.Scraping of New Pension scheme(NPS) :It has come out through 7th CPC report that though NPS was introduced more than a decade back Govt; to date could not firm up rules in this regard. With the result over 300000 employee recruited after 2004 may not have enough funds in their accounts at retirement to ensure financial security. Center and state Govt’s share of contribution is insufficient and these governments are not depositing their contribution in time, investments are subjected to service tax & withdrawals are taxable under Income Tax with the result there would not be enough money for reasonable post retirement financial security. Due to ever rising inflation, this situation will go on worsening year by year and will go out of hand by the time of retirement of the beneficiary. This is more than sufficient reason to scrap NPS & to revert to pre 2004 defined benefit Pension Scheme.

Thanking you in anticipation.

Secy. General Bharat Pensioners Samaj
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Why we must not grudge them a pay hike

Why we must not grudge them a pay hike

In the heyday of Indian socialism, the perception of government was benign. In today’s climate of liberalisation, the government is viewed with hostility. That must explain the negative reaction both in the media and amongst the public at large to the increases in pay for Central government employees recommended by the Seventh Pay Commission (SPC).

The pay hikes are modest — embarrassingly so in comparison with pay increases and bonuses in the private sector. Yet, media reports talk of a ‘bonanza for babus’. The impact on the fiscal can be easily digested by the Indian economy. Yet, analysts warn of slippages in the fiscal deficit, a possible boost to inflation, and a setback to public investment. Do we want to run the government — which comprises not just civil servants but the police, armed forces, nurses, doctors, regulators and academics — at all? Or have we persuaded ourselves that all of the government is simply money down the drain?

Setting pay in government

The SPC’s figures don’t come out of nowhere. The Commission has a rigorous basis for setting pay in government. It arrives at a figure for minimum pay in government with reference to norms laid down by the 15th Indian Labour Conference (ILC) in 1957. The ILC had said that the minimum wage should cover the basic needs of a worker and his family, that is, a spouse, and two children who are below the age of 14. The SPC has spelt out the norms it has used for determining basic needs. It has gone by food requirements specified by a well-known nutritionist. To this are added provisions for clothing, fuel and lighting, education, recreation, festivities, medical expenses, and housing. There is an addition of 25 per cent to the total of the above to provide for the skill factor (the basic needs having been determined for an unskilled person). The SPC report provides detailed computations for each of these items. No reasonable person can accuse the SPC of being overgenerous.

Based on these norms, the SPC arrives at a minimum wage of Rs. 18,000 for a government employee. This is 2.57 times the minimum pay in the Sixth Pay Commission. The increase over the projected pay on the current basis as of January 1, 2016 is 14.3 per cent. This is the second lowest increase recommended by any Pay Commission since the first one, and it is way below the 54 per cent increase following the last one. The multiplication factor of 2.57 is used to arrive at pay for all levels of government except for a few at the top where a slightly higher multiple is used.

As before, pay at the lower levels of government is higher than in the private sector; at the top, the position is reversed. In today’s context, this may not be a bad thing at all. Pay in the private sector today is contributing towards massive inequalities in Indian society. Having a very different structure in government is a useful corrective to trends in the private sector. It will help contain tensions created by rising inequality.

Good news

So far as the impact on government finances is concerned, the SPC numbers provide a stream of good news. First, the impact of the pay hike on the Central government (including the railways) will amount to 0.65 per cent of GDP. This is less than the impact of 0.77 per cent of GDP on account of the Sixth Pay Commission.

Second, the impact on the Central government (excluding Railways), which is what matters when it comes to the Union budget, is 0.46 per cent of GDP. As some of the increase in salary comes back to the government as taxes, the impact, net of taxes, will be even less — say, 0.4 per cent of GDP (assuming an average tax rate of around 20 per cent on government pay). This is a strictly one-off impact. The correct way to view it, therefore, would be to amortise it over a period of, say, five years. The annual impact then is 0.08 per cent of GDP. The impact on the fiscal at the central level is barely noticeable.

Trends in the wage burden in the government are worth noting. Pay and allowances in the Central government have remained stable since 2010-11 at around 1.8-2.0 per cent of GDP. Thus, pay and allowances have been rising at roughly the same level as nominal GDP or 11-12 per cent. This is the increase after taking into account increments, adjustments for dearness allowance and promotions. In the private sector, such an increase would be considered laughable at all but the lowest level.

Pay, allowances and pension (PAP) as a proportion of government expenditure has been declining sharply. In 1998-99, PAP was 38 per cent of revenue expenditure. The SPC estimates that this figure has fallen to 18 per cent in 2015-16. (It will go up to 22 per cent in 2017-17 consequent to the SPC award, but will decline thereafter, as pay grows at a lower rate than government expenditure). The implication is striking: in financial terms, the workforce in government has been effectively downsized by nearly half over the past 17 years.

Pay in the private sector is contributing towards massive inequalities in society. Having a different structure in government will help contain tensions created by this inequality

Even in terms of numbers, India’s central bureaucracy (including the Railways but excluding the armed forces) has neither been increasing in recent years nor hugely bloated in absolute terms. The number of employees grew to a peak of 41.76 lakh in 1994. It has declined since to 38.9 lakh in 2014. Of the total, 13.8 lakh is accounted for by security-related entities (police and defence civilians). Railways and Post, which perform commercial functions, account for 15 lakh personnel. There are other commercial departments as well, such as Communications. Excluding security and commercial functions, the total central employment is just 4.18 lakh. “The ‘core’ of the government…”, the SPC report notes, “is actually very small…”

The SPC substantiates its point by comparing India’s Central government workforce with that of the federal government workforce in the U.S. In 2012, the non-postal civilian workforce in the U.S. was 21.3 lakh. In India, the corresponding figure in 2014 was 17.96 lakh. The number of personnel per lakh of population in India was 139 in 2014, way below the figure of 668 for the U.S. India’s bureaucracy needs not so much downsizing as right-sizing — we need more doctors, engineers, IT specialists, tax experts, judges, and so on.

The government is not bound by the SPC’s recommendations. It can opt for higher pay hikes as happened with the previous Pay Commission. Assuming the government goes along with the SPC, what impact on growth can we expect? Increased pay for government employees means greater government expenditure and hence a fiscal stimulus — provided government expenditure on other counts is not reduced and the fiscal deficit rises. This happened at the time of the Sixth Pay Commission. Higher wages for government employees contributed to a higher fiscal deficit and helped stimulate growth in the short run.

This time round, the Finance Ministry insists that it will stick to its fiscal deficit target for 2016-17 after providing for the SPC pay hike. If it does so, the reduction in fiscal deficit will be contractionary. Hence, the pay hike will not lead to economic expansion in the aggregate. However, greater income in the hands of government employees could favourably impact sectors such as the real estate, automobiles and consumer goods.

(T.T. Ram Mohan is professor at IIM Ahmedabad)
//copy//Courtesy : The Hindu (dt.24th Nov 2015)
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