Staff to be covered under OPS to retire from 2040, govt not worried about implementation

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AFTER having notified Old Pension Scheme (OPS) last week, and employees threatening to go on strike for want of Standard operating Procedure (SOP), Punjab government is not worried about its implementation as the employees, who would be covered under the scheme would start retiring from 2040.

Despite the criticism by the employees, the government has nothing to worry.

The National Pension Scheme (NPS) was implemented in the state in 2004 when Amarinder Singh was the CM. Later, his government banned new recruitments citing funds crunch and also did not fill any vacancies that fell vacant after retirement of employees.

It was in 2008, after Parkash Singh Badal took over that the orders to fill vacancies were issued. The recruitments had started in 2008.

A senior functionary of the government said, “As we recruit youths after graduation and post-graduation, the average age of such youths, who get recruited is 25-26. When they retire at 58, they put in 32 years of service. With that calculation, those who were recruited in 2008, would not retire before 2040. In that case, it would be upto the government of the day to pay the pension as per OPS. There is a long time for that.”

He added that the government had factored in this point and hence announced reversal to OPS. To ensure that the government would have to pay pensions in 2040, the government has set up a sinking fund in which Rs 1,000 crore is being deposited. “This fund, if continues, would help the government bail out of this pension burden,” the functionary said. He said if the government would have to stop contributing its share in Pension Fund bing managed by pension regulator, PFRDA. “We will stop that and start having our own Corus. If PFRDA refunds out Rs 16,500 crore already in the corpus fund, then it is a win win situation. If it does not then it does not matter also.”

While the political leadership of the state took the decision of reversal to OPS, there were a few bureaucrats who had opposed the decision. “It was opposed. The government should not have done it. Many of us opposed it. When it is implemented it would be a drain on the funds. The state needs development and not any vote catching schemes to woo employees,” said a government official.

He added that there were fears, especially among younger bureaucrats, who would be retiring after 2040 on whether the state would be in a position to pay salaries. “Punjab will suffer. Nobody is realising this now,” said an official on anonymity.

The government had notified OPS a few days ago after a group of employees had threatened to organise Poll Khol rally in election bound Gujarat. While a set of employees were placated, the Government Employees Organisation has now threatened to organise protest rallies on November 27 and 30.