Make Pension Age 58: Expenditure Panel - The New Indian Express

Make Pension Age 58: Expenditure Panel

Published: 05th February 2014 08:24 AM

Last Updated: 05th February 2014 08:28 AM

Pension age is back in the news with the Kerala Public Expenditure Review Committee recommending that it should be hiked to 58 for government staff and employees of aided educational institutions and autonomous institutions like the KSRTC.

The recommendation has come in the committee’s second report for 2011-’12 tabled in the State Assembly on Tuesday.

The retirement age in the state (now 56), the committee chaired by Dr B A Prakash noted, was relatively low when compared to other states and the central service.

With pensions proving to be a major financial headache for government departments as well as institutions such as KSRTC and universities, the committee has recommended constituting a ‘Compulsory Savings Scheme.’ This scheme requires employees to deposit one-tenth of their basic pay in it and repayment is made with interest after five years. Class four employees would be exempted.

To shore up finances, the committee asked the  government to act smart on collection of tax arrears (the arrears stood at `10,273 crore in March 2012, according to the C&AG). The salary expenses of the government shot up from `5,346 crore in 2004-05 to `16,083 crore in 2011-2012.

Pension expenses went up from `2,601 crore to `8,700 crore in the same period, the committee noted. It suggested hiking the charges of various services offered by government departments and using cameras and scanner to check corruption at checkposts.

A critical portion of the report deals with the shocking financial health of the seven universities (Kerala, Calicut, MG, Cusat, Kannur, Sanskrit and Kerala Agricultural University). The committee found them to be  neck-deep in crisis. To tide over the crisis, the panel recommended the formation of a pension fund, periodic revision of various fees and re-deployment of non-teaching staff in the light of e-governance steps.

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On the basis of plan implementation in 2011-2012, the Kerala Public Expenditure Review Committee (KPERC) has categorised Taxes, Legislature, Food and Civil Supplies, IT, I&PRD, Science and Technology, Sports and Youth Affairs and Revenue as ‘Very Bad’ departments.

On the other hand Agriculture, Finance, Fisheries, General Education, Higher Education, Power, PWD, Law and Tourism departments were adjudged the ‘best’. There was a tendency to jack up plan spending during the third and final quarters of the fiscal, the committee noted.This is not the first time that the KPERC has recommended pension age hike. The second KPERC had made the same suggestion. On Tuesday, the recommendation was made by the third committee in its report.

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