The Congress government in Himachal on Friday decided to restore the old pension scheme in the first Cabinet meeting of Chief Minister Sukhvinder Singh Sukhu. This was the biggest demand of government employees during the elections, which the Congress leaders had promised to fulfil.
After winning the Himachal Pradesh Assembly election last month, Sukhu had said: “We’ve given 10 guarantees and we will implement them. We will give transparent and honest govt. We will implement OPS (Old Pension Scheme) in the first cabinet meeting.”
Ahead of the meeting, Sukhu on Thursday said: “We are not restoring the Old Pension Scheme for votes but to give social security and safeguard the self-respect of the employees who have scripted the history of Himachal’s development.” He was addressing state government employees at the secretariat.
“Pension provides self-respect as parents are not dependent on their children. My mother is not dependent on her children as my father’s pension takes care of her needs. The government will work towards providing a dignified life to its employees after retirement,” he said.
WHAT WAS THE ISSUE?
The scrapping and the subsequent demand for restoration of the Old Pension Scheme was a major issue in Himachal Pradesh. The Congress had promised to bring the Old Pension Scheme back if it won the election.
This scheme, under which government employees received all their pension payments from the government. Employees with 20 years of service would receive 50% of their last drawn salary as pension. This was discontinued in India on April 1, 2004.
Under the New Pension Scheme (NPS), employees contribute 10% of their salary towards their retirement payment, while the government contributes 14%. Employees who joined government service On or after January 1, 2004, are covered under the New Pension Scheme.