Kerala welfare pensions: All dues will be settled by next fiscal, says Chief Minister

Pinarayi Vijayan announces in Kerala Assembly that five pending instalments of social security pensions, totalling ₹4,250 crore, will be disbursed in 2024-25 and 2025-26 fiscals

Updated - July 10, 2024 07:05 pm IST

Published - July 10, 2024 02:48 pm IST - THIRUVANANTHAPURAM

Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan has indicated the Kerala government’s intention to increase the welfare pension amount from the present ₹1,600 per beneficiary in due course.

Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan has indicated the Kerala government’s intention to increase the welfare pension amount from the present ₹1,600 per beneficiary in due course. | Photo Credit: THULASI KAKKAT

Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan has announced that the five pending instalments of social security pensions, totalling ₹4,250 crore, will be disbursed in 2024-25 and 2025-26 fiscals.

Presenting a statement regarding the timely disbursement of government benefits in the State Legislative Assembly on July 10, Mr. Vijayan also indicated the government’s intention to increase the welfare pension amount from the present ₹1,600 per beneficiary in due course. Two pending social security pension instalments will be distributed in the current fiscal and the remaining three, in 2025-26. Towards the settlement of these dues, ₹1,700 crore will be released this year.

Mr. Vijayan noted that the Kerala government shoulders the lion’s share of the responsibility in disbursing the five social security pensions and various welfare fund board pensions to around 62 lakh beneficiaries. While the 2011-2016 United Democratic Front (UDF) government disbursed ₹8,833.6 crore for social security pensions, the previous Left Democratic Front (LDF) government released ₹30,567.9 crore during 2016-21. The present LDF government has so far released ₹23,461.5 crore for meeting the pension commitment, he said.

On the pending dearness allowance (DA) payments to government employees, the Chief Minister said that seven instalments of DA/DR (dearness relief) are in arrears. From this fiscal onwards, two instalments will be released annually to employees and pensioners. The government will also issue a detailed order on the DA/DR and pay revision arrears, he added.

Health sector dues

On the arrears in the health sector, the Chief Minister said the dues on medical bills under the Karunya scheme and medicine distribution will be cleared in 2024-25 itself.

Dues amounting to ₹600 crore related to the revision of pensions as recommended by the 11th Pay Revision Commission also will be settled in the current fiscal, he said.

Among other things, Mr. Vijayan also announced that assistance will be provided to cardamom farmers in Idukki under the Idukki package for crop loss. The district had reported weather-induced crop loss in cardamom across 16,621 hectares.

In a 10-page statement presented under Rule 300 in the Assembly, Mr. Vijayan attributed the delay in the payment of government benefits to the financial crunch, triggered largely by the “discriminatory policies” of the BJP government at the Centre, experienced by the State since 2021. He also underscored his government’s commitment in distributing the benefits on time and clearing the arrears.

Revenue mobilisation

The Chief Minister went on to add that government departments will issue “special orders” by July 31 on revenue mobilisation and expenditure control and to ensure transparent and seamless delivery of government services to the public. The Chief Secretary will be tasked with supervising this initiative.

“The State government is engaged in increasing the tax revenues and non-tax revenues. Effective measures will be taken under the supervision of department secretaries to increase non-tax revenue,” he said.

Opposition slams CM’s statement

Meanwhile, the Opposition Congress-led UDF slammed the statement made by Mr. Vijayan as an eyewash. Leader of Opposition V. D. Satheesan pointed out that the government has not provided any revenue estimates for the announcements. “One year from now, the people of Kerala will put the government on trial one year on the basis of the Chief Minister’s statement,” he said. Deputy Leader of Opposition P. K. Kunhalikutty said Mr. Vijayan has, in reality, presented a ‘white paper’ which declares that nothing would materialise.

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