Draft Memorandum to 7th CPC
(Draft -by our CHQ and valid modification suggestion if any by us before
20-4-2014 will be considered if it is fit)
Our Association, All India BSNL Pensioners Welfare Association (AIBSNLPWA) was formed on 20th August 2009. It was registered under Societies Act in Kerala and the registration number is 1833/09.
We have more than 40,000 membership which includes DoT Pensioners, BSNL Pensioners and Family Pensioners. We have Branches throughout the country. We function democratically according to our constitution. We represent the grievances of pensioners to the concerned authorities and use the forum of ‘Pension Adalat’ for redressing the grievances. 7th CPC may give an opportunity for our Association for tendering oral evidence.
We submit the following demands before the 7th CPC for its consideration:-
Same fitment fourmula for absorbed BSNL pensioners
The employees working in Department of Telecom were enmasse transferred to BSNL, on conversion of DoT into a public company named “BSNL”. Before the conversion, there were several rounds of discussion with unions. It was agreed to extend the retirement benefits on combined service. The Government of India agreed to pay pension/family pension from ‘Consolidated fund’. It was also agreed that the retirement benefits would be as per CCS Pension Rules 1972. Accordingly Rule 37-A was incorporated which was published in Government Gazette on 30/9/2000.
The employees of DoT were absorbed in BSNL in the year 2002 but with retrospective effect from 1/10/2000. Their pay scales were also revised from CDA pattern to IDA pattern retrospectively from 1/10/2000 with industrial dearness allowance. The employees who retired from BSNL after 1/10/2000 have rendered their maximum service in Department of Telecom. Most of them have served in DoT for more than 30 years. Most of the 6th CPC recommendations like Gratuity, Enhanced Pension, Age-related additional pension, Minimum/Maximum pension etc. were made applicable for those BSNL retirees. The Government of India is honouring its commitment of paying pension from the Consolidated fund. Infact those who retired from BSNL after 1/10/2000 are actually BSNL retirees but Government Pensioners.
Their pension was calculated on the basis of last 10 months average emoluments for those who retired prior to 1/1/2006 and 50% of last pay drawn or last 10 months average whichever is beneficial for those who retired after 1/1/2006 as per 6th CPC recommendations and they are getting industrial dearness allowance every three months. Their pension was revised w.e.f. 1/1/2007 on the basis of pay revision effected from 1/1/2007 for serving employees in BSNL. The pay revision from 1/1/2007 for BSNL employees was implemented on the basis of recommendations of Second Pay Revision Committee for Public Sector Employees headed by Justice Jagannath Rao. But for those who retired from BSNL after 1/1/2006, the recommendations of 6th CPC, like 50% of last pay drawn as pension, Minimum pension of Rs.3500/- Enhanced family pension for 10 years for those died in harness etc. were implemented from 1/1/2006 onwards. This duality should be put an end to.
The absorbed employees in BSNL from DoT are covered under CCS Pension Rules 1972 and hence they should be considered as Government Pensioners. Pay Commission’s recommendations are made applicable to them except the fitment formula. The fitment formula recommended by 7th CPC, be made applicable to them also. The only difference may be, it would be in IDA Pay and IDR instead of CDA Pay and CDR. To end the duality once and for all, the commission is requested to consider this demand, applying the same fitment formula to absorbed BSNL pensioners on par with Central Government Pensioners, ofcourse without changing the IDA pattern, positively and recommend to the Government accordingly.
The five member Constitutional Bench of Hon. Supreme Court of India, headed by Chief Justice Y.V.Chandrachud in the famous D.S.Nakara & others Vs. UOI delivered the judgement on 17/12/1982 stated that the “quantum of pension should be at a standard equivalent at the pre-retirement level” (para 36). Tata Economic Consultancy Services (TECS) appointed by 5th CPC recommended that Pension is to be 65% and Family Pension 45% of Last Pay drawn or Last 10 Months Average Emoluments whichever is beneficial (5th CPC Report para 127.9 Vol.III). We would like to point out that France is paying 75% of last six months average; Cyprus is paying 67% of Final Salary; Malta is paying 67% of average of the best consecutive 3 years out of last 10 years; Austria is paying 80% of average of best 15 years wages as pension. Our neighbor, Srilanka which is also in the Lower Middle Income Group of Countries like India in South Asia, is having a scheme called “Public Servants Pension Scheme (Defined Benefit Scheme) established in 1901, as a mandatory scheme financed by the Government budget. It is paying 85 to 90% (for 30 years of service) of last one year annual salary at retirement as pension (Source: Srilanka Pension Department Circular No.3/2004 dated 16/1/2004). The life expectancy at 60 in Srilanka is 20.2 which is 3.5 higher than India. It is also to be noted that the retirement age for Men is 55 and for Women it is 50. Bangladesh, which is also our neighbour, is in the list of Low Income Group of Countries is paying 80% of Last Pay as pension. The retirement age in Bangladesh is 57. The Life Expectancy at 60 in Bangladesh is 17.9 same as in India. Expenditure on pensions of civil servants of high income OECD countries on an average is 2% of GDP (less than 1% in Ireland and more than 3.5% in Austria) (Source OECD Social Expenditures Database). But in South Asia (8 countries) it is less than 1% of GDP (Source: World Bank Pension Database). In India, between 1964-65 and 2004-05 on an average pension payments (civil service pension paid by Central Government) have constituted 0.51 percent share of GDP. The pension liability would continue to increase and reach 0.54% level by 2019-20 and remain at that level till 2024-25 after which they decline as a percent of GDP (Source: Study of terminal Benefits of the C.G. employees made by Centre for Economic Studies & Policy, Institute for Social & economic Change, appointed by the 6th CPC). Considering all the above facts, the commission is requested to recommend 65% of LPD or last 10 months average emoluments whichever is beneficial as pension and 45% as Family Pension. The commission is also requested to maintain parity between post 2016 retirees and pre 2016 retirees.
Age-related Additional Pension
The Government of India has accepted and implemented the 6th CPC recommendations of age-related additional pension beyond the age of 80. In India, according to NSSO survey (2007-08) only 7.5% of population is above the age of 60. Naturally this may reflect among the pensioners also. Life expectancy at 60 is only 17.9 and at 70 it is only 11.8 (Source: Sample Registration System O/o the Registrar General, India). It means a Government servant is receiving pension for 18 to 22 years. In the age-group of 60 to 79, in Rural areas 5% and in Urban areas 5.5% is confined to bed. In the same age-group 22.4% in Rural areas and 20.2% in Urban areas is confined to home due to physical immobility (Source National Sample Survey, 60th Round, 2004). After retirement, their income from pension is nearly 1/3rd of Gross salary at the time of retirement. But they have to spend more on medical care. So, this age group also requires additional pension. Afganistan is one among the Low Income Countries in South Asia. The retirement age there is 65. Additional pension of 3% is given for each year after 65 and the maximum 80% additional pension is paid there. Taking into consideration of all the above factors, the Commission is requested to recommend 5% increase in Basic Pension for every 5 years after retirement as age-related additional pension upto the age of 80 and thereafter as per the existing scheme.
Pension Income out of Incometax-net
Pension to be net of Incometax was recommended by 5th CPC (Para 167.11 Vol.III). Due to high rate of inflation and spiraling prices of essential commodities, the purchasing power of the pensioner is reduced drastically since 1/1/2006. We would like to bring to the notice of the Commission that in the region of East Asia and the Pacific, Defined Benefit Scheme is implemented in Mangolia, Philippines, Thailand and Vietnam and in those countries, pension income is exempted from tax. The Commission is requested to recommend for exempting the pension income from Incometax.
Automatic merger of 50% DR with Basic Pension
Dearness Allowance does not adequately take care of inflation even according to Deputy Chairman, Planning Commission, Shri Monteksingh Aluwalia (Source PTI report dated 27/2/2008). After 1/1/2006 as per 6th CPC recommendations, accepted and implemented by the Government, serving employees are getting 25% allowances more whenever DA reaches 50%. But the pensioners do not have that benefit. The pension is getting revised only once in 10 years. Dearness Relief does not compensate inflation adequately. Real value of pension is eroded because of inflation. 5th CPC recommended for automatic merger of DA/DR when it crosses 50%. The Commission is requested to recommend merger of 50% DR with Basic Pension when it crosses 50%.
Restoration of commutation
The concept of commutation is sale of a portion of pension for a lump sum. At present maximum 40% of pension is allowed for commutation on optional basis. It is restored only after 15 years. The old-age dependency ratio climbed from 10.9% in 1961 to 13.1% in 2001 & 14.2% in 2011. About 65% of the aged had to depend on others for their day-to-day maintenance. Death rate is 2% in the age group of 60 to 64 (Source: Central Statistical Office, Ministry of Statistics & Programme Implementation, Government of India, June 2011). Many State Governments in India (like Kerala, Madhya Pradesh, Odisha) are restoring the commutation after 12 years. 5th CPC vide para 136.12 recommended for restoration of commutation after 12 years. Our neighbour Srilanka is paying 24 months last salary at the time of retirement as commutation and only 10% of pension is deducted. It is restored after 10 years. The Commission is requested to recommend restoration of commutation after 12 years instead of 15 years.
Article 41 of Indian Constitution provides that the State shall, within the limits of its economic capacity and development, make effective provision for securing the right to work, to education and to public assistance in cases of unemployment, old age, sickness and disablement, and in other cases of undeserved want. Further Article 47 of Indian Constitution provides that the State shall regard the raising of the level of nutrition and the standard of living of its people and the improvement of public health as among its primary duties. The National Policy on Older Persons (NPOP) was announced in January 1999 to reaffirm the commitment to ensure the well-being of the older persons. The policy envisages State support to ensure financial and food security, health care, shelter and other needs of older persons, equitable share in development, protection against abuse and exploitation, and availability of services to improve the quality of their lives. The primary objectives include “to provide adequate health care facility to the elderly; to promote research and training facilities to train geriatric care givers and organizers of services for the elderly”. In pursuance of NPOP, National Council for Older Persons (NCOP) was constituted in 1999 under the chairpersonship of the Minister for Social Justice and Empowerment which was reconstituted in 2005 with members comprising Central and State Governments representatives, representatives from NGOs, citizen’s groups, retired person’s associations, and experts in the field of law, social welfare, and medicine. An Inter-Ministerial Committee on Older Persons were also constituted, headed by the Secretary, Ministry of Social Justice & Empowerment, comprising 22 Ministries/Departments, as a coordination mechanism (Source:- Central Statistical Office, Ministry of Statistics & Programme Implementation, GOI, June, 2011). The Apex Court has held that the right to health is an integral facet of meaningful right to life to have not only a meaningful existence but also robust health and vigour. Therefore, the right to health, medical aid to protect the health and vigour of a worker while in service or post retirement is a fundamental right to make life of a worker meaningful and purposeful with dignity of person (AIR 1995 Supreme Court 922). Thus healthcare is not only a welfare measure but is a Fundamental Right.
Among the persons aged 60 years and above, 32.4% in Rural and 45.5% in Urban are sick and suffering from any one of the diseases like Whooping Cough/Ulcer/Problem of joints/Hypertension/Heart disease/Urinary problem/Diabetes/Cancer (Source: National Sample Survey, 60th Round, 2004). In the age group of 60-69, disability in seeing is 52%; disability in speech is 4%; disability in hearing is 11%; movement disability is 28%; and mental disability is 6% (Source: Population Census 2001). So healthcare is most important for pensioners. The Government, instead of strengthening the scheme of Central Government Health Scheme (CGHS), is taking steps to weaken it. Recently Cashless treatment is withdrawn. Poor pensioners, most of them do not have the affordability to pay and get reimbursement later. Many reputed hospitals are not willing to treat the CGHS beneficiaries due to many reasons like delayed payment, low cost compared to market. Hassle free health care facility to Pensioners/Family Pensioners should be ensured. Smart Cards may be issued to all Pensioners and their dependents for cashless medical facilities throughout the country. These smart cards should be issued to the pensioners at an affordable rate which is very high at present. These smart card should be made valid in all Government hospitals, Multi Super specialty hospitals and empanelled hospitals across the country. CGHS rates needs revision once in two years, taking into account the market condition. Most of the medicines have to be purchased in the open market and in that case, the pensioners should be given a discount of 40%. Since it is a most important demand of the pensioners, the Commission is requested to recommend accordingly.
Fixed Medical Allowance
The Ministry of Health and Family Welfare has assessed the total cost per card per year (in 2007-08) as Rs.16,435/- which works out to Rs.1,369/- per month for OPD. If inflation is taken into account it may cross Rs.2,000/- p.m. today. Employees Provident Fund Organisation (EPFO) beneficiaries are already getting Rs.2,000/- p.m. as FMA according to Ministry of Labour and employment, GOI letter dated 7/6/2013. The Government may have to spend more if insurance option is implemented for OPD. FMA is nothing but a reimbursement of medical expenses and medical reimbursement is not taxable. Hence it should be exempted from incometax. The commission is requested to recommend an amount of Rs.2000/- p.m. without any distance restriction, as FMA and be net of tax.
Enhanced Family Pension
6th CPC recommended (para 5.1.42) that “in case of Government employees dying in harness, family pension may be paid at enhanced rates for a period of 10 years”. The recommendation was accepted and implemented by the Government from 01/01/2006. If the Government employee dies within few years/months after retirement, this benefit is not given. In accordance with Rule 54 (3) (a) (ii) of CCS Pension Rules 1972 “in the event of death of a Government servant after retirement, the family pension as determined under sub-clause (i) (i.e. Enhanced family pension) shall be payable for a period of seven years, or for a period upto the date on which the retired deceased Government servant would have attained the age of 67 years had he survived, whichever is less”. It requires amendment to the extent that ‘enhanced family pension shall be payable for a period of ten years, or for a period upto the date on which the retired deceased Government servant would have attained the age of 70 years had he survived, whichever is less’. The commission is requested to give suitable recommendation in this regard.
Old Age Homes
The socio-economic system has undergone a drastic change in India in the recent past. The concept of joint family system is demolished due to various reasons and nuclear family system is the order of the day. 70.1% families in India are nuclear families (Source: 2011 census). Pensioners who are not taken care of or who could not take care of, by the kith and kin and who could not stay alone are joining old age homes. Hence it is requested that the Government may start Old Age Homes atleast in District Headquarters.
HRA & TC
All the pensioners do not have a roof over them. After retirement, their pension income is nearly only 1/3rd of gross salary they got at the time of retirement. This sudden drop in income creates financial problems. The pensioners do not get the same treatment and dignity even from their own family. After retirement, most of the pensioners spend the time on spiritual activities. They would like to visit important religious places in the country. The commission is requested to recommend same percentage of HRA (on basic pension) as that of serving employees and the pensioners may be given the facility of Travel Concession once in 2 years.
Proper Organisation with teeth to redress Pensioners’ Grievances
To redress the grievances of pensioners promptly, DoP&PW issued several circulars to all departments but it is not implemented in letter and spirit. In the recent past SCOVA is meeting once in 4 months only for 3 hours. Pension Adalats are being held by various departments and Banks at regional level once in 6 months. There are about 10 million pensioners in Central Government, CPSEs, para-military forces etc. Pensioners’ grievances are galore. These mechanisms are not sufficient for prompt redressal of pensioners’ grievances. Further these forums are toothless. SCOVA should be like JCM National Council which should meet once in 4 months. Its decisions should be implemented scrupulously and if there is laxity, there should be a provision for taking action. Pension Adalat should be held once in 6 months at National level by all Central Government departments headed by respective Secretary. Similarly Pension Adalats should be held at State-level once in 4 months headed by respective departmental head at State-level. These forums should be given semi-judicial status. All Pensioners Associations should be part and parcel of these forums. 5th CPC recommended that representatives of Pensioners Associations should be included in various committees & other Fora of Government where issues relating to the welfare of pensioners are discussed and debated (para 141.30 Vol. III). We are of the considered opinion that this kind of arrangement only would help for prompt redressal of pensionrs’ grievances. The commission is requested to give appropriate recommendation on this vital issue.
-Thank you CHQ