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Jharkhand CM Hemant Soren reduces qualifying age for pension to 50 from 60

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Jharkhand Chief Minister Hemant Soren on Friday said that the state government has reduced the qualifying age for old-age pension from 60 to 50. He also added that his government would reserve 75% of the jobs for locals in companies that set up offices in the state.

The Hemant Soren-led government, which came into power in December 2019, universalised pensions under all categories. Earlier, anyone above 60 was eligible for Old Age Pension. The pensioner must meet only two criteria:

The person should not be an income tax payer. The person should not already be a pensioner. The age bar now has been reduced to 50. 

Earlier this year, data obtained from the Department of Women, Child Development and Social Security showed that the Jharkhand government increased its pension coverage across several categories by more than 200 per cent since coming to power in December 2019. 

The state is providing pension to people across five categories and spent roughly Rs 2,400 crore on pensions in the 2022-23 financial year.

As of March 2023 under the Old Age Pension scheme, 14.25 lakh beneficiaries were paid, which was up from 3.45 lakh as on December 31, 2019. The Particularly Vulnerable Tribal Group Pension beneficiaries went up from 52,336 to 70,577 while the beneficiaries Destitute Women Pension went up from 1.72 to 3.79 lakh. HIV AIDs patient beneficiaries jumped from 3375 to 5778, while Disability Pension beneficiaries jumped from 87, 796 to 2.44 lakh.

Last week, CAG tabled a report in the state assembly stating that there were gross irregularities and illegal transfer of crores of rupees in the performance audit of Direct Benefit Transfer (DBT) in scholarship and pension schemes in Jharkhand.

CAG noted fraudulent disbursement of scholarships to ghost or fake beneficiaries amounting to Rs 1.17 crore, like providing pensions to deceased persons and widow pensions to male beneficiaries were found during the audit.

“Considering the objectives and relative impact of DBT in social security and scholarship schemes, a performance audit of DBT in Jharkhand from 2017 and 2021 was conducted between November 2021 and May 2022. Huge financial irregularities were found in the audit,” Accountant General (Audit), Jharkhand, Anup Francis Dungdung said in a press conference.

CAG said the state government had collected Rs 69,722 crore from the central assistance. However, it was found that 40 per cent of this revenue was spent on paying interest on salaries, allowances, pension and loans taken for development schemes.

In the financial year 2021-2022, the state government spent Rs 13,979 crore on salary allowance, Rs 7614 crore on payments of pension and Rs 6,286 crore on interest payment. The government’s revenue deficit increased in 2021-2022 compared to the financial year 2020-2021.

The revenue deficit of the government in 2021-2021 was Rs 3,114 crore and in 2021-2022 it was Rs 6,944 crore. At the end of the financial year 2021-2022, the total debt and liabilities burden on the government increased to Rs 10,9184.98 crore. The state government took the loan of Rs 5,000 crore at 6.87 per cent and 7.35 per cent interest rates to meet its expenses.

source by: Business Today News

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