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Don't dawdle on pension reform, NAC's Aruna Roy tells govt

National Advisory Council member Aruna Roy has said she will ensure that pensions being made uniform becomes an electoral issue if the union government does not implement pension scheme in a universal manner with immediate effect.

“We will not wait beyond 2013-14 for bringing in universalisation of pension with some degree of increase in the amount beneficiaries receive,” Roy said on Thursday, at a programme in New Delhi conducted by Pension Parishad, an umbrella body of civil society organisations.

 Dont dawdle on pension reform, NACs Aruna Roy tells govt

Aruna Roy has told the government to implement pension reform at the earliest. Screengrab from CNN-IBN

Roy was reacting to Union Minister of Rural Development Jairam Ramesh’s address to the Prishad in which he said as per the restructuring of National Social Assistance Programme, the Indira Gandhi National Disability Pension and Indira Gandhi National Widow Pension will be universalised with exclusions based on clear criteria.

The Minister did not give a time line on implementation of the scheme.

“I cannot tell you how soon. But it should be done in less than five years,” he said.

Roy, one of the founder members of the Parishad, said “We cannot agree to this indefinite timeline. We want the government to frame a timeline.”

Pension Parishad has been demanding that the amount of pension be increased from current amount of Rs 200 to Rs 2000 per month per beneficiary.

The minister said a minimum pension of Rs 300 will be implemented across the board for the elderly, women who are widows, single, abandoned, deserted and for people living with disability.

“In the next few weeks my ministry will confer within the government and with Pension Parishad to determine whether the pension amount should be Rs. 1000 or Rs. 2000. This is a decision only the Prime Minister and the Finance Minister can take,” Ramesh said.

The Parishad and the government are on the same page over revising and adjusting the pension amount as per inflation, as it is done with the MNREGA wage rate.

An agreement has also been reached on redefining ‘single woman’ to include women who could not get married due to any reason.

“The widow pension will be given to all widows 18 years and above and in addition the pension of Rs 300 will also be given to all vulnerable women – divorced, separated, abandoned and single” said the Union Minister.

For payment of disability pension, the government will rework the qualifying criteria to include people with 40 per cent disabilities from the present level of 80 per cent,” said Ramesh.

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Updated Date: Mar 08, 2013 15:52:15 IST