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Thursday, July 19, 2018

MHRD has several questions on university’s pension scheme

The Centre has raised questions about how the university was planning to deal with its financial liabilities.

Written by Meghna Malik | Chandigarh | Published: December 12, 2015 2:36:14 am

THE MINISTRY of Human Resource Development (MHRD) has raised several questions regarding Panjab University’s Pension Scheme, which was implemented in 2006 despite a Central Government directive that said pension would not be provided to employees who joined after 2004.

Panjab University’s Pension Scheme was mooted in 1991, but it took 16 years for it to be implemented. PU Vice-Chancellor Prof Arun Kumar Grover said, “The pension scheme at PU is complex and there are serious questions being raised by the MHRD. To begin with, there is some ambiguity on the date from which the scheme has been effective. When the scheme was going to be implemented, the date for implementation changed a couple of times, leading to this ambiguity.”

The MHRD has raised questions over how and why the PU Pension Scheme was implemented after 2004. According to sources in the university, the then Prime Minister Manmohan Singh played an instrumental part in the implementation of the pension scheme at PU in 2006.

Apart from this, MHRD has also raised questions about what fraction of the deficit is being diverted towards the payment of pension.

However, according to the university authorities, the questions being raised by the MHRD are not likely to affect the current pensioners of the university. “The questions raised by the MHRD are genuine, and the university needs to figure out a way to deal with the deficit. This is basically a matter of handling the university’s dwindling finances,” a PU official said.

When the PU pension scheme was mooted, it was said the university would pay the entire pension amount to its employees from its corpus fund. However, as the university could not afford to pay the entire pension from its corpus fund, a clause was added that said the deficit in pension and salaries would be met by the Centre.

Earlier, the PU Senate had passed a resolution, allowing widows of PU employees to be included in the pension scheme, which led to an increase in financial liabilities. However, the resolution was then not cleared with the Centre. Later, as widows of PU’s retired employees moved court, demanding that pension be given to them, a contempt notice was served by the Court to Panjab University as well as
the Centre.

The Centre has raised questions about how the university was planning to deal with its financial liabilities.

Prof Grover added, “All of these anomalies need to be looked into before the Seventh Pay Commission recommendations come into effect, as with the proposed hike, the deficit to be met by the Centre on behalf of PU will only increase, adding to the financial liabilities.”
Panjab University’s thinktank, which was constituted for ensuring the financial well-being of the university is now working towards addressing the issues raised by the MHRD. According to PU officials, after the conclusion of the ongoing session of the Parliament, a meeting of the university’s stakeholders is also going to be organised to handle the financial situation of the university.

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