‘Not Negative’ On Old Pension Scheme, Says Maharashtra Deputy CM After Dismissing Reversal

New Delhi: Maharashtra Deputy Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis on Wednesday said the state government was “not negative” about reverting to the old pension scheme. His statement can be deemed as a change in stance on the matter as in December last year, the Deputy Chief Minister had to the state assembly that “the government will not give pensions as per the old scheme.”

According to a report by The Indian Express, Fadnavis was addressing a BJP rally when he said: “Let me be clear that we are not negative about it (OPS). We will discuss it with Finance and other departments. But whatever be the solution, it has to be long term and not short term”.

On this issue, he hit out at the opposition parties the Congress and Nationalist Congress Party (NCP), saying, “These people only talk (about OPS). But if there is going to be a change in the present pension scheme to old, then only we have the courage to do so. Not these people.”

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Fadnavis was addressing a rally organised for BJP candidate Kiran Patil, contesting the Legislative Council elections scheduled on January 30 from the Aurangabad division teachers’ constituency, the report mentioned. Kiran Patil is facing NCP’s sitting MLC Vikram Kale who has raised the demand to bring back OPS.

The Deputy Chief Minister’s remark has come days after Maharashtra CM Eknath Shinde told state employees that the BJP-Sena government was positive on this issue.

“The government is positive about the old pension scheme for teachers and government employees, non-aided schools, and also for 25 per cent reservation in English medium schools. The education department is studying the old pension scheme,” Shinde had said on January 14 in Thane, as quoted by The Indian Express.

In December last year, Fadnavis, who is also the finance minister of Maharashtra, had asserted that his government will not revert to the old pension scheme as it would put a burden of Rs 1.10 lakh crore on the exchequer and lead to bankruptcy of the state. In response to a question in the state Assembly, he said the old pension scheme was stopped in 2005.

According to a report by news agency PTI, the Deputy CM lauded the then Congress-Nationalist Congress Party government for taking the decision of stopping the old pension scheme in the interest of the state.

Under the old pension scheme, employees get a defined pension — an employee is entitled to a 50 per cent amount of the last salary drawn as pension.

However, the pension amount is contributory under the National Pension System, which has been in effect since 2004.

“The government will not give pensions as per the old scheme. If the old pension scheme is to be implemented, then it will add a burden of Rs 1,10,000 crore and this will lead to bankruptcy of the state. The old pension scheme will not be implemented,” Fadnavis said, as quoted by PTI.

So far, the Congress-ruled states like Chhattisgarh, Rajasthan, and Himachal Pradesh have restarted the old pension scheme. The Aam Aadmi Party-ruled Punjab has also returned to it.

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Earlier, the Reserve Bank sounded caution on reversion to the old pension scheme, saying it poses a major risk on the “subnational fiscal horizon” and would result in the accumulation of unfunded liabilities in the coming years for them.