7th Pay Commission’s suggestions on NPS – 7th CPC observes that Government employees who have joined service between 2004 and 2011 have suffered due to delay in investment in market though they contributed properly.
Summary of suggestions of 7th Pay Commission relating to NPS
- A study of upwared revision of contributions by employees in NPS required
- There should be no delay in investment of contributions made by employee as certain states are yet to release the contribution made by AIS officers to NPS account.
- PFRDA should take steps to make the Tier-II accounts operational as early as possible to enable the NPS subscribers the facility of withdrawals from their accounts in case of requirement.
- NPS is under the Exempt–Exempt – Tax (EET) regime while the General Provident Fund under the OPS is under Exempt–Exempt–Exempt (EEE) dispensation.
- Withdrawals under the NPS should be tax-exempt to place NPS at par with other pension schemes.
- Service tax levied at the time of annuity purchase by NPS subscribers should be exempted.
Analysis of the Asset Mix of Investments
The Commission recommends that the investment choices under NPS be calibrated on a life cycle approach and the choices be offered in a simple manner so that any lay person can understand and act accordingly. The Commission also recommends that government, in consultation with PFRDA, come up with different options for investment mix and provide subscribers a range of options.
The Commission has received suggestions that the government’s contribution should be enhanced from the present 10 percent in aid of a higher payout under the NPS. Associations and individuals have made presentations before the Commission highlighting that forecasts suggest that a 10 percent contribution from government will not be adequate to provide reasonable post retirement financial security in all cases. The Commission, therefore, recommends that this important aspect should be re-examined in detail by an expert body for making course corrections if required.
Period of Contribution
The Commission notes that time is of the essence in building up a reasonable corpus and ensuring that effects of compounding are significant. It is therefore essential that contributions by individuals and corresponding contributions by government are made in time, and more importantly, are deployed without any loss of time. Any delays in this respect, particularly in the initial years can have a large impact on the eventual corpus.
No proper investment in Markert for 2004-2011 Entrants
Government employees who have joined service between 2004 and 2011 have suffered due to delay in finalizing the structure of the NPS and the issue of detailed instructions. Although they have made regular contributions, in many cases, this money and/or counterpart contributions were not deployed in the market.
In the case of AIS officers, some states are yet to release counterpart contributions or pay interest on delayed contributions. This has led to a situation where the accumulated corpus even after 11 years of service could be meagre.
It is necessary that this situation which arose during the transition from OPS to NPS be addressed. The Commission therefore recommends that Central Governments and State Governments should, in a time bound manner, ensure that all the due contribution along with compounded interest, where contributions have been delayed, be deposited in the accounts of the beneficiaries.
Advisories should be issued to the State Governments to deposit amounts, if not already done, in respect of NPS beneficiaries belonging to All India Services.
Withdrawal under NPS
Many Association have pointed out that unlike the facility under GPF, it is not possible to make withdrawals under NPS, even to meet obligatory social expenditure. This forces employees towards increased indebtedness as they have to borrow from elsewhere.
The Commission notes that under the NPS Tier-I account, a subscriber is permitted to make partial withdrawal of twenty five percent of the contributions made to his/her individual pension account for certain specified purposes. Such withdrawals are permitted a maximum of three times during the entire tenure of subscription and a period of at least five years should have elapsed between two such withdrawals.
The Commission further notes that there exists a voluntary Tier-II account. Under this account, a subscriber can, at any time, withdraw the accumulated wealth either in full or part and there is no limit on such withdrawals provided the account has sufficient balance of accumulated pension wealth to cover the amount being withdrawn. However, the Tier-II account is yet to be made operational. The Commission therefore recommends that PFRDA should take steps to make the Tier-II accounts operational as early as possible to enable the NPS subscribers the facility of withdrawals from their accounts in case of requirement.
Transparency under NPS
Many associations and individuals have complained that the information relating to the NPS is inadequate, resulting in high degree of uncertainty in the minds of contributors about post-retirement benefits. The Commission noted that PFRDA sends a communication to every participant each month with the current pension wealth and the latest contribution that has been credited. The Commission recommends that focused efforts be made to capture email addresses and mobile numbers of subscribers so that seamless communication is ensured for all subscribers. The Commission recommends that consultation with stakeholders should also be held periodically in different parts of the country.
The Commission notes that no department of Government of India is taking ownership of the NPS. The Commission recommends that a Committee consisting of Secretary, Department of Financial Services, Secretary, Department of Pensions and Pensioners Welfare and Secretary, Department of Administrative Reforms and Public Grievances may be constituted to review the progress of implementation of NPS. The Commission also recommends that steps should be taken for establishment of an Ombudsman for redressing individual grievances relating to NPS.
Tax Treatment under the NPS
NPS is under the Exempt–Exempt – Tax (EET) regime while the General Provident Fund under the OPS is under Exempt–Exempt–Exempt (EEE) dispensation. Under the NPS, while the contributions and the accumulations are tax-exempt, withdrawals are taxable.
As such, this is an inferior tax treatment when compared to other pension programmes such as General Provident Fund, Contributory Provident Fund, Employees Provident Fund and Public Provident Fund wherein contributions, accumulations and withdrawals are tax-exempt.
The Commission feels that tax neutrality should be ensured across various avenues for long term savings for post retirement incomes so that the employees covered by NPS are not at a disadvantage.
The Commission therefore recommends that withdrawals under the NPS should be tax-exempt to place NPS at par with other pension schemes. The Commission also recommends that the service tax levied at the time of annuity purchase by NPS subscribers should be exempted.
Issue of Family Pension In Case Of Death of the Subscriber
Another complaint received by the Commission from staff associations and individuals is that Family Pension after the death of the employee is not ensured in the NPS. The Commission notes that the government had provisionally extended benefits under the Central Civil Service (Extraordinary Pension) Rules, Family Pension/Extraordinary Family Pension/Liberalised Pensionary Award to government servants appointed on or after
Rules regulating these benefits have now been notified by the PFRDA. PFRDA regulations provide for an exit option from NPS in case of premature death of the subscriber by availing of additional relief from government, in which case the entire accumulated pension wealth inclusive of subscriber’s contribution would be transferred to government. The Commission recommends notification of a scheme by government for provision of additional relief in such cases consequent to exit from NPS.
Source: 7th Pay Commission Report