Terming the budget proposal to raise the retirement age as a betrayal of youth by the government, the Opposition youth brigade in the Assembly warned of a protracted agitation.

Addressing a press conference after the budget presentation, P. Sreeramakrishnan, T.V. Rajesh, V.S. Sunilkumar and others said the government had failed to honour its assurance. “The Chief Minister had repeatedly stated that raising the retirement age was not on the government's agenda. Pushing the proposal through in the budget is arrogant and an attempt to bypass democratic traditions”, Mr. Sreeramakrishnan said.

He said the Youth Congress and the Muslim Youth League would have to pay a heavy price for supporting the government on the issue. The budget proposal, he said, was only a test dose, to be followed by steady enhancement of the retirement age in phases. It was an indication that the government was withdrawing from the employment sector, he added.

Mr. Sunilkumar said the Finance Minister's proposal would drive a wedge between service organisations and the youth. He warned that youth organisations would fight the proposal tooth and nail. “The large number of educated unemployed youth places Kerala in a unique situation. The move to raise the retirement age would cause 22,000 youth to lose job opportunities in the short term,” he said.

Mr. Rajesh said the budget proposal would result in a long-term freeze on recruitments, triggering a spate of suicides by youth.

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