Apropos of the column “The EPFO tax is utterly unjustified” (FE, March 3), after Independence, government servants could opt either for CPF or pension. Most opted for PF though pension too was structured on interest rates. With decline of administered rates, complete switch over to pension scheme followed. PF rates stood at 12% from 1989 to 1999. From 2005, it reverted to the 8.5% rate seen in 1981. Yet, the government feels caught up enough today to be taxing the nest-egg of non-pensioners, one that is already being steadily eroded by inflation. On the other hand, the exchequer has often nearly emptied coffers, thanks to the periodic pay panel largesse. The salary and pension of government servants, totalling to around R5-5.5 lakh crore annually, is 24% of revenues. This amount equals the annual postal savings of the common man. The additional outgo now, of R1 lakh crore, a 23.55% increase, thanks to the 7th pay panel, is proposed to be met from increased tax revenues with little spill-over for growth. The OROP outgo this fiscal could prune defence procurement. The common man is as much a stakeholder in the economy as the government servant whose interests are so generously espoused by one panel after the other. We rank 38 and 140 globally on corruption and ease of business indices, respectively. Why not work towards a 23.55% upgrade on these and such other indices as well? In such a scenario, at least the sacrifice of non-pensioners would not have gone in vain.
R Narayanan, Ghaziabad
Don’t bring back Sec 66A
Apropos of the edit “Tread carefully”, this need to have greater policing powers for the digital medium is greatly exaggerated. The existing provisions of the law are enough for deterrence and punitive purposes. One need only look at how long-drawn the battle to get rid of Section 66A was to realise how desperately the powers that be want a subjugating, anti-personal liberty law. In a country that already stands polarised thanks to the divisive politics of the ruling party, there is no telling how a replacement law will be used. The internet is not the domain for political parties to play out vendetta politics. I wish citizens would recognise the danger that this proposed legislation poses for a thriving democracy.
Sumona Pal, Kolkata