Ineligible pensioners under scanner

Secretaries of local bodies entrusted with the task of identifying the ineligible

The State government is set to crack down on 2,500-odd employees and service and family pensioners who are pocketing a chunk of the welfare pensions meant for the weaker sections by fudging documents. The Finance Department issued a circular on June 8 directing secretaries of local self-government institutions to weed out ineligible beneficiaries from the pensioners’ list.

Earlier, the Gulati Institute of Finance and Taxation, after evaluating the welfare pension schemes that cover 40% of the households in the State, had found that about 10-30% persons availing themselves of the benefits by understating income, falsifying age, widow status, and disability criteria were ineligible.

Many below 60 years receive old-age pension. Cases of beneficiaries fudging details for securing widow and disability pension are aplenty. Employees of the State government and public sector undertakings figure on the list of such beneficiaries.

The government spends about ₹5,000 crore for disbursing pensions and has now resolved to curb the duplication of beneficiaries following the stress on the State finances. Two expert committees have been appointed to recommend expenditure rationalising and resource mopping measures.

Directive to employees

The Finance Department had earlier issued a circular directing the government employees, service pensioners and family pensioners to inform the local governments for removing their names from the list and also prescribed a system for repaying the amount they had drawn in violation of norms. The employees were directed to intimate their heads of departments, who would deduct the sum from their salary. Since the response was tepid, the Finance Department has again initiated steps.

But Local Administration Department sources are sceptical about the move. For, local body secretaries are engrossed in COVID-19 containment activities and the elections are due in October. Hence, they may not have adequate time to bring such erring staff and pensioners to book.

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