Finance Minister K M Mani virtually pulled off a coup on Friday by announcing in the state budget that those who enter government service from April 1, 2013, will retire at the age of 60. He also underscored that the government will not hike the pension age of serving employees. Mani did not read out the contentious portion on the pension age in his budget speech.
Confronted by mediapersons in a post-budget briefing, Mani stressed that the government is ensuring benefits for the jobless youth by hiking the pension age. “The government states in unequivocal terms that the pension age of existing employees will not be increased. Not now, not later,’’ Mani promised.
“In tune with the national pension scheme entailing participatory pension, the pension age of those entering govt service will go up to 60. Since the pension age of existing employees is not hiked, it will not affect the interests of the youth in any way,’’ he added.
With the crucial announcement, the Finance Minister has taken the sting out of the criticism of various youth organisations that the government was planning to hike the pension age on the sly. At the same time, the youth outfits cannot blame the government for hiking the age of those entering government service in future since they are poised to have additional years of service.
But serving staff will have to be content with a service of 56 years. When questioned on why the pension aspect was not read out in the course of his budget speech, Mani maintained that “he might have missed it as he felt uneasy with a gas problem for some time’’.
The Opposition termed his act as a disrespect to the Assembly. “One should take responsibility for the decisions taken,’’ said former Finance Minister T M Thomas Isaac.