The Congress government in Himachal Pradesh on Friday decided to provide Old Pension Scheme (OPS) for all government employees who are presently covered under the defined contributory pension scheme, referred to as NPS, with the move expected to benefit about 1.36 lakh employees in the state.
Decision taken at the first cabinet meeting
The decision was taken ahead of Makar Sakranti at the first meeting of the state cabinet chaired by Chief Minister Sukhvinder Singh Sukhu.
Implementing OPS was one of the major election guarantees of Congress and the party had said a decision to implement it will be taken in the first meeting of the state cabinet.
The state cabinet also took some other decisions relating to the party's election guarantees.
It decided to constitute a cabinet sub committee for finalizing the roadmap for implementing promise of creating one lakh employment opportunities in the state. The sub-committee comprises Industries Minister Harshwardhan Chauhan, Revenue Minister Jagat Singh Negi and Education Minister Rohit Thakur.
Cabinet to form sub-committee for finalising roadmap
The state cabinet also decided to constitute a sub-committee for finalizing the roadmap for implementation the promise of giving Rs 1500 to the women in the age group of 18 to 60 years. The sub-committee comprises Health Minister Dr (Col) Dhani Ram Shandil, Agriculture Minister Chander Kumar and Rural Development and Panchayati Raj Minister Anirudh Singh.
The cabinet decided to adopt election manifesto of Congress "as policy document of the government" and all concerned ministers, secretaries and heads of the departments will implement the same in letter and spirit, an official release said.
The state cabinet also passed a resolution thanking the people of Himachal Pradesh for "reposing their faith and confidence in the policies and programmes of Congress party".
The release said the cabinet also expressed deep gratitude to Congress president Mallikarjun Kharge and party leaders Sonia Gandhi, Rahul Gandhi and Priyanka Gandhi for their dynamic leadership that resulted in the party's victory in the assembly polls.
Aim of the government is to provide social security to all: Sukhu
Addressing a press conference, the Chief Minister said that the state government has decided "to provide OPS to all its NPS (National Pension Scheme) employees to ensure that they live a respectable life after retirement".
Sukhu said the aim of the government is to provide social security to all.
He said that the state government has decided to implement OPS "from the point of view of social security and humanity" and the government had fulfilled a poll promise of Congress.
"Affordability of OPS expenditure will be achieved through financial discipline and cutting down on expenses and the government believes that there is no such thing that cannot be done," he said.
The chief minister said that the two sub-committees set up to implement poll promises of the party will submit their reports within a month.
Sukhu slams BJP after OPS announcement
He accused the previous BJP government for "a heavy debt trap of over Rs 75000 crore".
The Chief Minister said that "due to the financial mismanagement and wasteful expenditure by the previous BJP Government the state has inherited financial liabilities of Rs 4430 crore as salary arrears to its employees and Rs 5226 crore has liabilities of pensioners as pension arrears".
"In addition to this, liabilities of about Rs 1000 crore as DA of employees and pensioners on the present state government have been left by the previous state government. In this way, the previous state government has left total financial burden of about Rs. 11,000 crore on the state exchequer." Sukhu said that the Centre has over Rs 8000 crore as share of NPS employees. He said that despite all these odds, the state government has decided to provide old pension scheme to NPS employees so as to secure their retired life.
The Chief Minister said that the previous BJP government at the fag-end of its tenure announced opening and upgrading of about 900 institutions in the state with an eye on the general elections.
He said that all these institutions were opened and upgraded with the "sole motive to woo voters without any budget provision and irrational thinking".
The Chief Minister said that the state government has decided to wind up such institutions and all these would be reviewed and if found to be viable and required would be opened after making proper budgetary provisions.
He said that it would require another Rs 5000 crore if all these institutions were to be made functional.
(To receive our E-paper on WhatsApp daily, please click here. To receive it on Telegram, please click here. We permit sharing of the paper's PDF on WhatsApp and other social media platforms.)