Suggestions To Increase Pensions

News: The Centre government must increase the amount of pensions provided for poor senior citizens, widows and disabled people, said the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Rural Development.

Report of Parliamentary Standing Committee:

  • The panel pointed out that it had previously proposed the increase of the miniscule pensionsin its reports and slammed the government’s “laxity in raising the amount”.
  • Also, criticised the implementation of National Social Assistance Programme (NSAP)in reaching out to the poor and downtrodden section of the society.
  • Pointed out the meagre amount of assistance ranging from 200 to Rs. 500 per month under the different components of this Scheme. Noted the callous approach of the State Governments in the proper implementation of the provision of unemployment allowance. Pulled up the Department of Rural Development (DoRD) for issues in implementation of the flagship MGNREGA scheme.

Issues in the MGNREGA Scheme:

  • Lack of Work Supply that too when there was an increase in the demand for work under MGNREGA due to economic distress caused by Covid-19 pandemic.
  • Delay in the Release of Funds is a huge discouraging aspect and does not go in consonance with the underlying spirit of the scheme.
  • Disparity in Wages in Different States: The committee noted how it is possible that a single scheme having the provision of hundred days of guaranteed work to willing people from the rural settings can have different yardstick when it comes to the payment modalities across the length and breadth of the country.
  • It is against the Constitutional provision of equal pay for equal work.

About National Social Assistance Programme (NSAP):

  • The NSAP is a Centrally Sponsored Scheme under the Ministry of Rural Development. It came into effect from 15th August, 1995.
  • It represents a significant step towards the fulfillment of the DPSP in Article 41 of the Constitution(It directs the State to provide public assistance to its citizens in case of unemployment, old age, sickness and disablement and in other cases of undeserved want within the limit of its economic capacity and development).
  • It aims to provide financial assistance to the elderly, widows and persons with disabilities in the form of social pensions.
  • The NSAP at its inception in 1995 had three components namely
  • National Old Age Pension Scheme (NOAPS,
  • National Family Benefit Scheme (NFBS) and
  • National Maternity Benefit Scheme (NMBS).
  • The NMBS was subsequently transferred on 1st April 2001 from the Ministry of Rural Development to the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare.
  • On 1st April 2000, a new Scheme known as Annapurna Scheme was launched.
  • In February 2009, two new Schemes are known as Indira Gandhi National Widow Pension Scheme (IGNWPS) and Indira Gandhi National Disability Pension Scheme (IGNDPS) were introduced.

·         Presently NSAP comprises of five schemes, namely –

  • Indira Gandhi National Old Age Pension Scheme (IGNOAPS)
  • Indira Gandhi National Widow Pension Scheme (IGNWPS)
  • Indira Gandhi National Disability Pension Scheme (IGNDPS)
  • National Family Benefit Scheme NFBS) and
  • Annapurna