NEW DELHI: In a major disappointment to more than 22 lakh ex-servicemen, Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley on Monday rejected their demand for an annual pension revision under the ‘One Rank, One Pension’ scheme, but said the Centre would give higher pensions to soldiers retiring at an early age.
Talking about the financial implications of the scheme, Jaitley said, “I have my own formula on what OROP means. Somebody else may have their own formula on OROP, but it has to be within reasonable and rational criteria. You can’t have an OROP where pensions are revised every month or every year,” he said, adding that annual pension revisions didn’t happen anywhere in the world.
The minister said the government couldn’t set a precedent offering “unreasonable concessions”, which other segments of society might also start demanding, merely on emotional grounds.
“Can the BSF do it? Can the CRPF do it? Obviously, the thinking India will say it’s not the right step to take. You can’t create a liability that the future generations will have to pay for,” he said.
Jaitley said the recommendations of the Seventh Pay Commission for government employees was due for implementation shortly.
“I have been very vigilant about fiscal prudence and, therefore, my job is really that of a housewife in the sense that you must measure every rupee that the house spends so that you don’t overspend ... start borrowing beyond a point and indulge in fiscal indiscipline,” Jaitley told a TV channel.
He, however, added, “We would like to safeguard the interest of those soldiers who retire at the age of 35 or 38 and the society must protect them...and therefore some higher pension on a special formulation is understandable but then it can’t be revised every year.”
Meanwhile, Rajya Sabha member and former BJP leader Ram Jethmalani reached Jantar Mantar to express solidarity with the ex-servicemen who have been agitating there for the implementation of the One Rank, One Pension scheme for 78 days.
Nine Army veterans and the father of a martyred soldier are on a fast-unto-death while many others are on a relay hunger strike.