Sucheta Dalal :The New Pension Scheme: Good intentions poor execution
Sucheta Dalal

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The New Pension Scheme: Good intentions, poor execution  

April 15, 2010

 In the current Budget, the Central government had announced that it would contribute Rs1,000 towards each New Pension Scheme (NPS) account opened this year. The Pension Fund Regulatory and Development Authority (PFRDA) plans to make the scheme more attractive. While various efforts have been made to make the NPS attractive, the Centre has failed to attract its own States towards the scheme.


Even after six years of its launch, only 12 States have executed the NPS scheme, eight have merely entered into an agreement with the NPS Trust. Administrative difficulties in identification of eligible employees and the difficulties of implementation of a payroll-linked programme are some of the difficulties that have been cited by various States for non-implementation of the scheme.


The NPS was introduced by the government in April 2004, to cover all entrants in government service. It was subsequently extended to the general public later. At that time, around 23 States in the country had notified adoption of the NPS for their employees.


However, even after six years, the implementation of the scheme has not taken off. According to the 13th Finance Commission Report (2010- 2015), only 12 States have executed their agreements signed with the Central Record Keeping and Accountancy Agency (CRA). In the case of NPS, the National Securities Depository Limited (NSDL) has been appointed as the CRA.The Report further states that an additional eight States have entered into agreements with the NPS Trust.


This lacklustre performance from the States has led to an abysmal transfer of funds worth Rs 133crore so far to the NPS. The amount is quite meagre compared to the total corpus that the government had transferred to pension fund managers. As on 31 March 2008, this amount stood at over Rs1,117 crore. Thus, the total amount transferred to the NPS stands at around 10% of the total amount that the Centre had allocated to the Scheme. According to the Report, this Rs113 crore is the transfer amount put together for only two States.


The Report states, “The contributions of State employees are lying in the State public accounts, earning a return equal to the interest rate allowed for the General Provident Fund. The migration to the NPS needs to be completed at the earliest.” The Report has also recommended a grant to assist States build a database for their employees and pensioners.

The Centre’s intentions may be noble, but if it can’t get the States to follow the NPS, how will it convince the general public to go in for what otherwise is a well-conceived scheme? — Amritha Pillay

-- Sucheta Dalal