The Punjab cabinet today raised the annual income limit for eligibility for pension and other social security schemes to Rs 60,000. The cabinet has also decided to minimise the hassles involved in availing benefits by introducing a system of self-certification. With the ongoing verification process expected to weed out a large number of undeserving beneficiaries, the increase in the income limit will not cause any additional burden on the exchequer, the cabinet noted. The cabinet also approved the draft notification for implementation of RERA (Real Estate Regulatory Authority) in the state. It gave a nod to the extension of services, along with wage increase, for contractual pharmacists and Class IV employees working as services in the subsidiary health centres at zila parishads. Disclosing details of the cabinet decisions after the meeting chaired by Chief Minister Amarinder Singh, an official spokesperson said it was decided to fix the income criteria for social security benefits, including the Atta-Dal scheme, at Rs 60,000, as against the existing Rs 24,000 for individuals and Rs 30,000 for a couple. It was also decided to make the payment of old age pension and other social security schemes in the rural areas directly into the bank accounts of the beneficiaries, as per the practice followed in the urban areas.
Earlier, the disbursements in rural areas were made through the panchayats due to which the rural population faced several hardships, he said. The self-certification will also eliminate the hassle of obtaining the necessary certifications from various authorities to apply for pension and social security schemes, the spokesperson said, adding that the beneficiaries will not have to run around to file their applications. As per the new rules, the applicant should not be in government or private employment, and should not have annual income more than Rs 60,000 from any source, including interest/rental income. The authority to approve the pension would be the District Social Security office, to avoid any duplication of pension cases at the district level. The monitoring and responsibility of implementing the scheme would also be at the district level. On RERA, the cabinet noted that the draft, prepared in consultation with all stakeholders and after taking their suggestions and concerns into account, will pave the way for the establishment of The Real Estate Regulatory Authority and Real Estate Appellate Tribunal in the state.
It will promote the sale of plots and buildings, etc., in a transparent and efficient manner, and protect the interest of consumers in the real estate sector, he said. As per the cabinet decision, the pharmacists and Class IV employees working as service providers in 1186 Subsidiary Health Centres of Zila Parishads under the Rural Development and Panchayats Department will get a hike in pay from the current Rs 7000 and Rs 3000 per month to Rs 8000 and Rs 4000 respectively, as a stop gap arrangement for the period from April 1, 2017 to March 31, 2018 or till regular recruitment (whichever is earlier). It may be recalled that the term of contract of Pharmacists and Class IV employees had already expired on March 31 this year.