Finally, the government is set to introduce the much-anticipated universal pension scheme after a long wait since the welfare initiative came into discussion to ensure financial security for all classes of senior citizens. It has been evident now following passage of the Universal Pension Management Bill, 2023 in parliament on Tuesday. It is imperative for the country to introduce the scheme which will be commensurate with the nation’s graduation from the least developed country status in 2026. Under the scheme, citizens aged between 18 and 50 are entitled to enrol themselves and pay a fixed monthly fee to the pension fund. The government will deposit an equal amount every month against the contributory fund of the participants. An aspirant pensioner will have to continue regular payments to the fund for at least 10 years after signing up. However, nothing has been said about people who have already crossed the said age limit by now.
A senior citizen, after his retirement at 60, will get a pension per month as per his contribution to the fund in their entire lifespan. If an enrolled pensioner dies, their family members will get pension benefits. As per press reports, the government will invest the money deposited to the pension fund which will reduce dependence on bank borrowing. The returns from such investments will be added to the fund. At present, only government employees are eligible for pension. However, no such schemes are available for the employees or their families in the private sector. But, it is heartening to note that this universal scheme promises to bring even the private sector employees under the pension umbrella. The government will also contribute to private sector pensions though the percentage has not been determined as yet. The Ministry of Finance hopes that the universal pension scheme will be fully implemented by 2025. We believe that those working in the informal sector will not be deprived of its benefit.