Kerala: Social security pension arrears to be disbursed in instalments

Arrears stand at Rs 4,250 cr. As of now, five instalments of social security/welfare pensions are pending, Govt plans to increase welfare pensions too
Representative image
Representative image

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: In a major decision post the Lok Sabha poll debacle, the state government has announced that social security pension arrears to the tune of Rs 4,250 crore will be distributed in a time-bound manner, as instalments during the current and next fiscal.

In a statement under Rule 300 made before the assembly on Wednesday, Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan announced that two instalments of arrears will be distributed during 2024-25 while the remaining arrears will be given as three instalments during the 2025-26 fiscal.

As of now, five instalments of social security/welfare pensions are pending. Pensions have been distributed without delay since March 2024. The Left government has plans to increase welfare pensions too, he said. In his detailed statement, the CM also set deadlines for distributing arrears to various other sections. Arrears under the Karunya Scheme, Life Mission, different welfare boards, Civil Supplies corporation, contractors, various scholarships and other financial assistance and allowances will be distributed in a time-bound manner, the CM informed the House.

The chief minister also criticised the Union government for cutting central grants. The central grants have come down to Rs 12,068 crore in 2023-24 from Rs 31,068 crore in 2020-21. Pinarayi went on to elaborate additional measures taken by the Left government in pension distribution, compared to the previous UDF government under Oommen Chandy.

The assembly witnessed uproar when Leader of Opposition V D Satheesan raised a point of order after the CM’s statement. Speaker A N Shamseer first refused permission for Satheesan to speak, citing that there cannot be discussion over statements under Rule 300.

Later permission was given following an exchange of words between the two. Satheesan pointed out that contrary to the nature of statements under Rule 300, the CM was making more of a political statement in the House. Parliamentary Affairs Minister M B Rajesh criticised Satheean for his remarks.

The chief minister announced the time-frame for distributing welfare pensions at a time when the Left government has been drawing flak from within the CPM and CPI for the delay in distributing pensions. The CPM leadership meets had also decided to set a priority for the Left government to implement different schemes.

Major dues to be cleared in FY 2024-25

Social welfare pension arrears - Rs 4,250 crore pending, Rs1,700 crore will be disbursed during the financial year 2024-25.

Kerala Building Welfare Board has given pension till May 2023. Special intervention at the government level to collect cess efficiently and expedite steps to clear arrears.

Khadi Income Support Scheme -Rs 80 crore pending. Action will be taken to settle this.

Kerala Anganwadi Workers & Helpers Welfare Fund - Workers who retired from 2010 to 2022 have arrears of Rs 11.22 crore, including Rs 6.10 crore for payment of pension for May and June 2024, Rs 4.18 crore for payment of 11 months arrears for those who retired in April 2023 and Rs 94.35 lakh as pension arrears for those who retired in 2024. Action will be taken to allow this.

Dues in the health sector - arrears due as part of the Karunya Scheme and bills for supply of medicines will be disbursed in a timely manner in the financial year 2024-25 itself.

SupplyCo - the arrears of assistance to Supplyco, amount due for paddy procurement and paddy production and expenses to be borne under the National Food Security Act will be disbursed in the financial year 2024-25 itself.

Dues to contractors - The arrears of the amount made available through the Bill Discounting Scheme, Rs 2,500 crore will be disbursed in the financial year 2024-25 itself.

Scholarship Distribution - The arrears of scholarship benefits for students belonging to Scheduled Tribes and fishermen families will be disbursed in the financial year 2024-25 itself.

An expenditure of Rs 103.91 crore is expected on disbursement of arrears under financial assistance to victims of wild animal attacks, cancer, tuberculosis and leprosy patients, pumping subsidy, wages and rebate to handloom workers, mixed marriages, fishermen families under Malabar Devaswom, Koladhikaris under Malabar Devaswom, and Madrasa Teachers Welfare Fund in the financial year 2024-25 itself.

Life Mission - government aims to complete 5 lakh houses through LIFE scheme. Steps are being taken to allocate the necessary amount for this.

Pension Revision Dues - the pending amount of Rs 600 crore as part of the pension reform implemented will be distributed in the financial year 2024-25 itself.

DA/DR/Salary Revision Dues to state government employees and pensioners - The government intends to allocate two instalments annually to DA/DR employees and pensioners from the financial year 2024-25.

Wayanad, Idukki, Kasaragod and Kuttanad Packages - Rs 203 crore has been earmarked for this in the financial year 2024-25.

Reconstruction of Rural Roads - Rs 1,000 crore budgeted for reconstruction of rural roads affected by natural calamities is planned to be spent in time-bound programmes this financial year itself.

Jal Jeevan Mission - Steps will be taken to pay dues to contractors based on the work done so far. The ongoing works are scheduled to be completed by October 2025.

Revenue enhancement and cost reduction - By July 31, 2024, special orders will be issued by the departments concerned to ensure frugality in expenditure. The chief secretary will be assigned to supervise this.

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