Centre non-committal on extra aid to pension schemes during Covid-19 period

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Published: April 1, 2020 5:00:44 AM

Under both the schemes, a monthly pension of Rs 3,000 is guaranteed to the beneficiaries after attaining the retirement age.

Those belonging to the entry age group of 18-40 years are eligible for the two schemes.Those belonging to the entry age group of 18-40 years are eligible for the two schemes.

Even as the Centre is urging employers to protect the interests of workers and refrain from lay-offs in view of the Covid-19 outbreak, it is silent on a demand for waiving off the contribution of small traders and unorganised sector workers such as daily wagers, rickshaw pullers and domestic workers towards the two subsidised contributory pension schemes launched last year.

The government makes matching contribution as that of the beneficiary under both the Pradhan Mantri Shram-Yogi Maandhan PMSYM) – which is meant for unorganised sector workers — and Pradhan Mantri Karam Yogi Maandhan Scheme (PMKYMS) for small traders. Under both the schemes, a monthly pension of Rs 3,000 is guaranteed to the beneficiaries after attaining the retirement age. Those belonging to the entry age group of 18-40 years are eligible for the two schemes.

With the lockdown imposed across the country since March 25, it would be practically impossible for those small traders and marginal workers to make their monthly contribution so defaults are bound to happen, analysts said. While there is no official word yet on the issue from the government, a labour ministry official told FE the matter could be examined ‘at a later date’.

It is a different matter that both the old-age pension schemes have failed to enthuse the intended beneficiaries. Only a little over 43.5 lakh people have joined the PMSYM scheme till March 29, 2020, since its launch on February 15, 2019 against the target of 10 crore in five years. Similarly, only around 37,572 ‘vyaparis’ have so far enrolled under the PMKYMS, which took effect on September 12, 2019, against the target of enrolling three crore retail traders and shopkeepers.

As on February 10, 2020, the government has contributed a total of Rs 499 crore for both the schemes — Rs 345 crore towards PMSYM and Rs 154 crore towards PMKSYM. In the Budget for 2020-21, the government has allocated Rs 500 crore and Rs 180 crore under PMSYM and PMKYMS respectively.

Under PMSYM and PMKYMS, a worker/trader joining at 18 years has to make a monthly contribution of just Rs 55. This is more affordable than the Rs 126/month premium that an 18-year old pays under the Atal Pension Yojana (APY) for an assured monthly pension of Rs 3,000 upon completion of 60 years.

Similarly, those who join PMSYM at the age of 29 will pay a monthly premium of Rs 100 for a fixed pension of Rs 3,000/month at the age of 60. This compares with Rs 318 a month for the same amount of monthly pension under APY.

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