New Pension Scheme : Analysis of the Issues by the 7th Pay Commission

10.3.12 The Commission has examined these concerns raised by the stakeholders. The Commission also interacted with Chairman, PFRDA, and representatives of the Department of Pensions and Pensioners Welfare (DPPW), Department of Personnel and Training (DoPT), Department of Expenditure (DoE) and the Department of Financial Services (DFS).

10.3.13 In so far as the future value of pension under NPS is concerned, the Commission notes that this would depend upon a combination of factors:

(i) performance of the invested fund, which in turn would depend on the asset mix of the investment and general economic situation of the country,
(ii) cost of financial intermediation,
(iii) contribution rates,
(iv) period of contribution,
(v) performance of the fund manager and
(vi) development of the annuity market.

Grievances against the NPS

The NPS has now been in effect for over 10 years. During this period, there has been perceptible progress in putting together the architecture and providing information to subscribers. Major concerns, however, remain. Broadly, these are as under:

i. The larger federations and staff associations advocated scrapping the NPS on the ground that it discriminates between two sets of government employees.

ii. Individuals covered under NPS have pleaded for reverting to the OPS on the grounds of uncertainty regarding the actual value of their future pension in the face of market related risks.

iii. Individuals have pointed out that under NPS, the effective salary becomes less since the employee has to mandatorily contribute 10 percent of pay towards the pension fund.
iv. Individuals have stated that grievance redressal facility is not effective and consultation with stakeholders has been non-existent. This communication gap has generated insecurity in the minds of stakeholders including staff and Group ‘A’ officers of Central Government as well as All India Service Officers.

v. Associations have complained that Family Pension after the death of the employee is not ensured in the NPS. Moreover, if an employee dies at an early age, the family would suffer since annuity from the contribution would be grossly inadequate.

vi. Individuals have complained that NPS subscribers have no recourse to GPF for their savings. Their personal savings (10% of salary) are considered part of a larger corpus. It has been pointed out that the justify approach would be to consider only government’s contribution and the returns earned on it as the effective amount available for purchase of annuities.

vii. Associations have pointed out that unlike the facility under GPF, it is not possible to take refundable advances under NPS, even to meet obligatory social expenditure. This forces employees towards increased indebtedness as they have to borrow from elsewhere.

viii. Grievances also relate to tax treatment under NPS. While contributions and accumulations in NPS are exempt, lump sum withdrawals from NPS at any time are
taxable at par with any other income. In addition, there is a service tax liability on any amount utilised for purchase of annuity.

ix. It has been pointed out that though NPS became effective from 2004, detailed instructions were issued only in late 2009 and in many cases the credit of contributions began from 2012. In the case of AIS officers in some States, contributions by the concerned State Government are yet to be fully made and deployed. The net result of this has been that contributions for the period 2004-2012 have not been made in full or have earned simple interest and did not get any market linked returns. Because of the prevailing confusion, contributions made by some AIS officer have been returned to them without interest. This will have a huge impact on the eventual corpus as the benefits of compounding were not available for the first 8 -9 years.

x. Individuals, in their presentation before the Commission, stated that annuities under NPS have no compensation for inflation unlike dearness relief under OPS. Further, in the case of OPS there is a revision in basic pension itself after every Pay Commission. This too is not available in respect of annuity of NPS subscribers.

xi. It has been pointed out that government employees are not given freedom of choice in choosing their fund manager based on performance and track record as the contributions are divided in a pre-specified ratio among selected Pension Fund Managers. It has been stated that government employees have no say in asset allocation
of their money.

xii. Concerns were raised that the contribution of 10% + 10% will not be sufficient to create a corpus which provides reasonable assurance that pension will be 50 percent of the last pay drawn.

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