Some news could be on the cards for organised sector employees in the near future. According to Mint, the government is mulling a hike in the minimum pension provided under the Employees' Pension Scheme, which is managed by the Employees' Provident Fund Organisation (EPFO). In fact, the hike might double - or even triple - the current pension of Rs 1,000 per month.
It is estimated that of the 60 lakh pensioners under EPS-95, around 40 lakh are getting less than Rs 1,500 per month. That's just Rs 50 a day, which is hardly adequate given the current cost of living. The government, meanwhile, boasts about Rs 3 lakh crore in pension funds.
The report added that a three-member committee, constituted by the labour ministry three months ago, is of the opinion that the existing pension is too low, though a final decision is yet to be taken. "We have discussed that the minimum pension should be between Rs 2,000 to Rs 5,000," Ravi Wig, one of the members of the labour ministry-constituted committee on pension told the daily, adding, "The committee has suggested that the government should immediately announce Rs 2,000 as minimum pension. The further enhancement up to Rs 5,000 can be debated and arrived at over time. The government has a responsibility and, I think, the poor workers should be provided with an enhanced pension."
Wig, who is also a central board member of the EPFO, is hopeful that the labour ministry will take a view on the issue sooner than later since the previous additional secretary heading the committee has been promoted as the secretary, labour and employment.
A labour ministry official also told the daily that the executive committee and the central board of the EPFO is expected to discuss the way forward on Monday and Tuesday.
Though the move will bring much-needed relief for lakhs of pensioners, it will also dent the government's kitty. As per reports, just doubling the minimum pension to Rs 2000 per month would translate to an additional cost burden of Rs 3,000 crore annually for the government.