The Sikkim Chapter of the National Movement for Old Pension Scheme (NMOPS) postponed its rally on Sunday after the Sikkim government on Saturday night formed a panel to look into the demand of the state employees to roll back the New Pension Scheme and reintroduce the Old Pension Scheme.
The movement, which claims to represent about 28,000 Group C and D Sikkim government employees, had announced the rally last week and as scheduled, hundreds of members gathered at the Gangtok Municipal Corporation auditorium at Deorali on Sunday morning.
However, the leaders of the movement told them that the rally stood postponed in view of Saturday night’s notification issued by the state’s department of personnel constituting a three-member committee to “examine the issues relating to the restoration of the Old Pension Scheme for employees who are covered under the Sikkim Government Servants’ (Contributory Pension) Rules, 2006”.
Pema Doma Bhutia, the president of the Sikkim Chapter of NMOPS, said the rally was being postponed, and not cancelled, in view of the initiative taken by the government. “We would like to thank the Honourable chief minister Sir for setting up the committee to look into our demand, and we are hopeful and confident of a positive outcome,” she said.
She, however, cautioned against dilly-dallying by the committee, which has been given three months to submit its report. “If the committee doesn’t do a good job and give a positive response or do not consult us, we will be compelled to take out this rally,” she added.
The NMOPS also demanded that the committee incorporate a member from the movement on the three-member committee, which will be headed by Rinzing ChewangBhutia, secretary of the personnel department. However, the notification only mentions that “the Committee may coopt any officer of the state government as a Member, if required”.
Under the Old Pension Scheme, government employees received 50 per cent of their last drawn basic pay plus dearness allowance or their average earnings in the last 10 months of service, whichever is more advantageous to them. Here, employees are not required to contribute to their pensions. Under the new pension scheme, those employed by the government contribute10 per cent of their basic salary to the scheme, while their employers contribute up to 14 per cent.
Moreover, the pension amount is market-linked, and invested in long-term mutual funds by the National Security Depository Limited (NSDL). Thus, the volume of the pension, in theory, will depend on the market value at the time of the withdrawal.
Bengal is the only state not to have implemented the NPA that was launched in 2003. Sikkim had adopted the NPA in 2006. In recent times, Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, Rajasthan and Punjab have either restored or are in the process of restoring the old pension scheme.