The government proposes to increase various welfare pensions for workers from next year, Minister for Labour and Excise P. K. Gurudasan announced here on Wednesday.

The quantum of increase in pensions would be announced by the Finance Minister Thomas Issac in his Budget for the coming financial year.

The Minister was speaking to the media after receiving the report of the committee appointed to submit recommendations on improving the functioning of the workers’ welfare fund boards and merger of boards facing financial difficulties.

Mr. Gurudasan said that the Budget would also have proposals regarding hike in other benefits to the workers from welfare funds. The government would assist the fund boards which were unable to meet the expense for higher pensions and other benefits. Currently, the minimum pension was Rs. 250 a month.

He said that the State government would continue to press the Centre to exempt the boards from income tax. The recommendation of the committee for merger of boards to improve their financial position would be considered for implementation. The government would also consider reduction of the pension age for beedi workers to 50 years, considering their health problems.

He said that a revised comprehensive health insurance scheme covering workers would be implemented from April next year. About 25 lakh families living below the poverty line (BPL) would benefit from the scheme. While the State and Centre would share the payment of premium for nearly 18 lakh BPL families, the entire premium for the remaining families would paid by the State government. APL (above the poverty line) families could join the scheme by paying the full premium.