Steps to address financial crunch of anganwadi welfare fund board: Minister

The fund for the retirement benefit is met from the anganwadi staff monthly share, proportionate government share, and interest on permanent investments. However, the number of those retiring is going up while those who pay their share has remained unchanged

Published - July 10, 2024 08:16 pm IST - Thiruvananthapuram

The State government is mulling steps to address the financial crunch experienced by the Anganwadi Workers and Helpers Welfare Fund Board in distribution of benefits to retired anganwadi workers, Minister for Women and Child Development Veena George told the Assembly on Wednesday.

Replying to a calling attention motion moved by P.C. Vishnunath, MLA, on timely revision of salary and pension of anganwadi workers and pensioners in the Assembly, the Minister said at present an anganwadi worker received an honorarium of ₹13,000, while a helper got ₹9,000. This included the amount granted by the State government as honorarium in excess to the amount sanctioned by the Union government.

As many as 29,262 anganwadi workers and 25,868 helpers in the 33,115 angawadis in the State are members of the Anganwadi Workers and Helpers Welfare Fund Board. The workers contribute ₹500 and the helpers ₹250 a month to the welfare fund. As many as 9,582 workers and 10,047 helpers are given a pension of ₹2,500 and ₹1,500 a month, effective April 1, 2021. This comes to ₹3.9 crore a month.

Those who retire from anganwadis are paid from the welfare fund the amount they remitted to it, 8% interest on it, and the government share (20%) as welfare fund benefits and ₹15,000 for anganwadi workers and ₹10,000 for helpers as retirement benefit.

Permanent solution

The fund for the retirement benefit is met from the anganwadi staff monthly share, proportionate government share, and interest on permanent investments. However, the number of those retiring is going up while those who pay their share has remained unchanged. The board is experiencing a financial crunch owing to the increase in expenses every year. It does not have adequate funds to pay the retirement benefits, thus leading to a delay. Talks were on with the Finance department to find a permanent solution to this issue, the Minister said. This year, ₹1.8 crore had been sanctioned as the government share.

From ₹500 and ₹300 as pension for workers and helpers, it has increased to ₹2,500 and ₹1,500 now. Even if the staff share to the welfare fund and the government share are together used to pay pension, the difference in the expense for making the monthly payment pension is putting pressure on the welfare fund. Steps to find a solution were the first priority of the government. It was trying to pay the arrears at the earliest.

Regarding Mr. Vishnunath’s complaint that aside from regular work, anganwadi workers were burdened with house visits, surveys and reports, community-based education, grama sabha work, and election duty, the Minister said work other than what the anganwadi staff are tasked with should be entrusted only after consultations; else it led to them experiencing much hardship. Directions had been given to clearly specify the tasks that anganwadi workers should do and this would be monitored.

On hiking their pension, paying them salary instead of honorarium, and payment of gratuity as per court judgments, the Minister said these were under government consideration.

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