With reference to Anup Roy’s report, “RBI employees stage protests on pension issue” (November 3), employees and retirees of the central bank have been holding these protests for 12 years now. A pension scheme along the lines of the central government pension plan, the Contributory Provident Fund (CPF), was introduced in the Reserve Bank of India on January 1, 1986. The RBI pension regulations had built-in provisions for a pension revision, whenever wages were revised for serving employees. This was reiterated by the RBI in a circular dated March 13, 1992. Following the circular, employees hesitated to opt for pension surrendering their accumulations to the CPF. The RBI revised pensions thrice — effective November 1, 1987; 1992 and 1997 after wage revision for serving staff.
Due to a misunderstanding at the lower level in the finance ministry, the government imposed an unwritten ban on further revision of pension in the RBI, effective November 1, 2002.The RBI has created its own pension fund, which is augmented annually based on actuarial valuations and after reckoning increased needs arising from periodic revisions. The fund’s corpus crossed the Rs 10,000-crore mark in 2015; clearly, adequacy of resources doesn’t stand in the way of pension revision in the RBI. Several Supreme Court judgments have acknowledged that wage and pension revisions are inseparable. Recognising this principle, the government has revised the pension of its employees. In the same spirit, the government should lift the unwritten ban imposed on pension revision in the RBI. This would likely avoid further unrest among RBI employees and ameliorate the grievances of retirees. Former RBI governor Raghuram Rajan, in his book I Do What I Do laments: “On the internal front, my biggest regret is that I could not solve a long-pending matter that I inherited from my predecessors: securing for retired RBI staff the same pension benefits that government employees enjoy, despite repeated assurances from the government that the matter would be addressed. I hope the government will do the right thing here.” Let us join Rajan in prayer. M G Warrier, Thiruvananthapuram
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