Friday, June 14, 2019
Defence Minister Rajnath Singh forms committee on soldiers’ pensions, asks for report in a month
Defence Minister Rajnath Singh on Friday morning took the decision of equalisation of pensions of retired soldiers under the One Rank One Pension (OROP) formula. He has formed a committee to work out the modalities and method of the next revision of pension under OROP.
The Committee will he headed by the Controller General of Defence Accounts (CGDA). It will have representatives from all three armed forces besides other stakeholders. The committee has been asked to submit its report in a month’s time. It will make specific recommendations on the matter.
The Tribune was the first to raise the issue in its edition dated June 14 (read that story here).
The issue cropped up as the CGDA had asked the Department of Ex-servicemen Welfare in the Ministry of Defence to clarify “whether any logic exists to initiate the process of OROP revision (equalisation) once the pension of past and current pensioners was equated on January 1, 2016”.
The revision in 2016 was done following the 7th Central Pay Commission (CPC). In other words, the CGDA asked if pension should be revised now, that is five years from the original OROP cut-off date, or should it be revised later since it was revised from January 2016.
This meant pension of almost 25 lakh retired soldiers hanged in the balance.
The OROP for soldiers was implemented with effect from July 1, 2014, and a gazette notification said pension would be equalised after five years—that is July 1, 2019. The term ‘equalised’ means all soldiers who retired in the same rank and with the same length of service will be on par in terms of pension.
Retired soldiers have pointed out that increase in pension under the 7th CPC is not ‘equalisation’ of pension under OROP. Under OROP, pension is ‘equalised’ and not ‘revised’. Upward revision of pension due to implementation of the 7th CPC should not in any way be linked to the OROP equalisation.
In the ongoing fiscal, Rs 1,12,080 crore has been allocated for defence pensions. The services are literally weighed down by the bulging ‘establishment’ costs—salaries and pensions. The salaries of the three services and the civilians work out to be Rs 1,19,559 crore and now form 37 per cent of the budget of Rs 4,31,011 crore. Salaries and pensions take up more money than what is allocated for modernisation.
(Source - The Tribune)