Kerala government proposes to introduce a pension scheme for workers registered under the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREG) and having worked under the MGNREG scheme for at least 100 days a year.

Minister for Rural Development and Culture K.C. Joseph told the media that the pension scheme would be implemented with contributions from State and Central governments and the workers. This is the first pension scheme to be launched for MGNREGS workers in the country, he added.

The Minister recalled that the State government had provided an Onam bonus of Rs.1,000 to women workers of MGNREGS last year for education of their children.

This year, the amount would be diverted as contribution for the pension scheme. Besides, Rs.1,000 per worker from the Swalamban scheme of Central government would be deposited as Centre’s contribution to the pension scheme. The contribution of the workers would be decided later in consultation with their representatives.

Mr. Joseph said the maximum age for joining the scheme would be 50 years. Pension would be provided to the workers on their attaining 60 years of age in proportion to the contributions on their credit.

He said women workers, who had worked for 100 days during 2012-13, would be given ‘Onakodi’ costing Rs.400 per piece this season. The majority of workers under the MGNREGS were women and there were 340 families that were eligible for the Onam gift. The government had allocated Rs.13.61 crore for the ‘Onakodi’ as announced in the Budget for the current year.

The Minister said the State had made better performance under the MGNREGS last year. The expenditure had more than doubled compared to 2010-11 (from Rs.701 crore to Rs.1,415 crore). Though there were only 72,343 families that had worked for more than 100 days in 2010-11, their number had risen to 3.5 lakh last year. As many as 836 lakh work days were generated compared to 493 lakh in 2010-11.

He said orders had been issued to facilitate asset creation under the programme. E-payment was also being introduced.

Asked about price rise and KPCC president Ramesh Chennithala’s criticism of the government over that, Mr. Joseph said price rise was not a problem confined to Kerala. The State government was doing everything in its power to control prices. KPCC president had only made constructive suggestions in that regard.

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