The Pension Fund Regulatory and Development Authority (PFRDA) wants systematic withdrawal plans (SWPs) to be allowed in the National Pension System (NPS), so that subscribers may choose a more efficient option than annuity products. Supratim Bandyopadhyay, whole-time member (finance) of the PFRDA, on Friday shared a clutch of changes that the regulatory body is seeking from the government. According to people in the know, the PFRDA is expecting some of these changes to be introduced by the Centre in the upcoming Budget itself. In the NPS, 40 per cent of the accumulate pension assets need to be used for an annuity product, while 60 per cent can be withdrawn by the subscriber. PFRDA officials say that with lower returns and taxation on annuities, investors would be better served with the SWP option. Even though 60 per cent of the total money received at maturity from the NPS is tax-free, annuities are taxed in the hands of investors. PFRDA has suggested that only interest earned should be taxed and not the entire annuity. As on December 14, 2019, the total assets under management of NPS stood at Rs 3.92 trillion. As part of its Budget proposals, PFRDA has also asked the government to increase the deduction under Section 80CCD (1B) to Rs 1,00,000 from Rs 50,000 per annum. Instead of different regulatory bodies overseeing pension products, the PFRDA wants all pension-related products to be brought under its ambit. At present, the overall assets managed in pension products stand at around Rs 25 trillion. It has also suggested that the NPS trust be independent of the PFRDA. “Being the creator and settler of the trust, there could be conflict of interest,” said Bandyopadhyay. In addition, the body has proposed extending tax exemption under 80C to tier-II voluntary NPS accounts. Right now, the exemption can only be availed by central government employees.
The PFRDA has been advocating exemption to other employees as well. The PFRDA is also planning to develop an industry body on the lines of the Association of Mutual Funds in India (Amfi). Bandyopadhyay said that we have been pleased with the investor awareness work done by Amfi to deepen the penetration of MF products. To improve the management fee at which NPS products are offered, there could be a fresh request to submit a proposal to set a new benchmark for the same, said people in the know. Currently, the low management fee at which NPS products are run also deters other players from entering the fray, industry sources said. Over the last ten years, the equity NPS products have delivered annualised returns of 11 per cent. The corporate bond schemes have delivered 10.3 per cent returns, while government securities schemes have yielded 9.5 per cent returns. Meanwhile, a conservative investor exposed to a diversified mix of the above products, would have seen a blended return of ten per cent over the last ten years.