Minutes of the meeting taken by Secretary (Pension, AR & PG) with the Banks and Pensioners’ Associations on 14.05.2010 at 3.30 PM in the Conference Hall, Sardar Patel Bhawan, New Delhi.
The second meeting in the series with the stakeholders i.e. Banks and Pensioners’ Associations, was held on 14.5.2010 under the Chairmanship of Secretary (Pension, AR & PG), in order to elicit their views 1 opinion in regard to formulation of a Strategic Plan of the Department of Pension & Pensioners’ Welfare for the next five years. The list of participants is at Annexure-A.
2. Secretary (Pension, AR & PG), while welcoming the participants, apprised them of the background behind convening the meeting. He mentioned that the Government of India has embarked on a comprehensive reform of the existing Performance Management System wherein all Ministries / Departments are expected to prepare a Result Frame-work Document (RFD) summarizing the main objectives and the corresponding action for the year. The RFD envisages, inter-alia, finalisation of Strategic Plan for the next five years. Towards this end, an Action Plan has been prepared by the Department which is expected to help in developing the strategy as well as the implementation road map. One of the activities envisaged under the Action Plan relates to `Assessing the Situation’ which would have a bearing on the performance of the Department. The views/opinion of the stakeholders would be crucial and important in guiding this Department towards formulation of a satisfactory and workable Strategic Plan.
3. In the above context, the Chairman requested the participants to offer their valuable views/suggestions which would form an important input for the Department in concretizing the Strategic Plan.
4. The stakeholders representing various Banks and Pensioner’s Associations thereafter came out with their views/suggestions as also the problems/constraints being faced by them in the matter of revision/disbursement of pension/family pension, revision of P.P.Os, etc. A gist of the major issues discussed and viewpoint of the Banks/Pensioners’ Associations are summarized below:
(a) Since revision and disbursement of pension! family pension are the major areas of concern, prior consultations with the pension disbursing authorities like Banks, Post Offices, etc., with regard to the proposed pension policy changes are considered desirable. This would enable the pension disbursing authorities to understand the nitty gritties of the proposed changes and the consequential changes in pension rules/procedures,thus,requiring software alterations.
(b) There needs to be an uniformity in the matter of PPO format (Le. Civil, Defence, etc.) with a view to facilitating uniform software development at the Bank’s level. Such arrangements would enable the Banks to develop new software for accurate and authentic calculation and prompt disbursement of the revised pension/family pension.
(c) The possibility of disbursement of pension/family pension through the Electronic Clearance System (ECS) need to be explored in order to cut short delays in the disbursement of pension/family pension and bringing in transparency in the system.
(d) The concept of Central Pension Processing Centre (CPPC) – a single window mechanism-needs to be introduced by all pension disbursing authorities (i.e. Banks) on priority.
(e) Revision of the P.P.D. being another area of concern, a deadline needs to be fixed for revision of P.P.Q. by the pension sanctioning authorities ( Le. HOO/PAO/CPAO). For this purpose there is a need for better and enhanced interaction among the Ministries/Departments, PAO/ C.P.A.O./ C.G.A. and the Banks to ensure revision of P.P.D. in a time bound manner.
(f) It was suggested that general clarifications on matters concerning pension/family pension issued by the Department of Pension & Pensioners’ Welfare from time to time, may be reflected under the ‘FAQ’ category both in the Department’s website as well as the Portal. This would help the pension disbursing authorities in retrieval of the Government instructions online which they may need to refer to while finalizing/disbursing the pension/family pension.
(g) In cases where a Pensioner/Family Pensioner desires to transfer his pension account to another bank, a copy of the P.P.Q. may be scanned and transmitted electronically by the existing bank to the new bank in order to facilitate early payment of pension/family pension besides bringing in transparency in the system.
(h) Provision needs to be made for hassle free payment of pension/family pension in the event of a pensioner/family pensioner switching over from one bank to another bank/one city to another city or even from one state to another state.
(i) CPENGRAMS needs to be more responsive vis-a-vis the pensioners’ grievances. If required, the portal could be further modified in order to facilitate speedy disposal/monitoring of the grievances.
(j) As of now Form 14 is required to be attested by two Gazetted Officers in connection with release of family pension. This has been causing a great deal of hardship resulting in delay in disbursement of family pension to the family pensioners. There is, therefore, a need to dispense with this practice for speedy release of family pension.
(k) An early decision needs to be arrived at in regard to enhancement of Fixed Medical Allowance to pensioners residing in areas not covered under the CGHS. It was informed that the matter is under active consideration of the Government.
Necessary Government orders enhancing the FMA from Rs. 100/-p.m. to Rs. 300/-p.m. have since been issued by the Department of Pension & Pensioners’ Welfare.
(l) Other than the documents (i.e. Voters’ I. Card, Driving License, PAN Card, Matriculation Certificate, Ration Card) prescribed by the Government in support of proof of age, the Affidavit may also be admitted as sufficient Proof of age for payment of additional pension/family pension to pensioners/family pensioners on completion of age of 80 years or above.
(m) The CS(MA) Rules may be made applicable to the pensioners/family pensioners as in the case of Government servants, in the light of a recent Supreme Court judgement.
(n) The ex-gratia amount payable to CPF beneficiaries/dependent family members needs to be enhanced as their counterparts in Railways (i.e. SRPF beneficiaries) are already in receipt of the enhanced ex-gratia amount w.e.f. November, 2006. It was informed that the matter is under consideration in the Department of Pension & Pensioners’ Welfare.
(o) The Standing Committee of Voluntary Agencies (SCOVA) and its meetings may be treated at par with those of the JCM (Staff Side).
(p) There was a lot of debate in regard to Pam 4.2 appearing in this Department’s O.M. No. 38/37/08-P&PW(A) dt. 1st September, 2008. The Pensioners’ Associations emphasized upon the need for an early resolution of the issue.
(q) The designated link branches of the Banks need to facilitate payment of pension/family pension to the Pensioners/Family Pensioners.
5. Secretary (Pension, AR & PG) concluded the meeting with the observations that the views/opinions of the participants will be taken into consideration while formulating the strategic plan of the Department of Pension & Pensioners’ Welfare. Besides, the Department of Pension & Pensioners’ Welfare is aware of its responsibilities towards the welfare of the pensioners’ community and will strive for fulfillment of its mandate at all times. The genuine and reasonable suggestions/views offered by the representatives of Pensioners’ Associations and the Banks would be attended to/ resolved in consultation with all concerned in due course of time.
6.The meeting ended with a vote of thanks to the Chair.