Govt plans all social security for workers

Govt plans all social security for workers: Rules being drafted, to also cover unorganised sector; maternity benefit,
old age pension, sickness allowance to be included...

Universal social security

This refers toArindam Majumdar’s report “Govt plans all social security for workers”(Business Standard, October17). Time is opportune to initiate measures for ensuring universal socialsecurity. The recognition at the highest level that economic growth alone will not bring social security for all, by itself, is a comforting signal.
The sporadic handling of social security issues so far has landed India in a shameful
situation where formal social security systems are not accessible to the majority who need them. Still we refuse to have a holistic approach to or a comprehensive review of, the available social security architecture. When external experts suggested we should slowly move out of the “Pay As You Go” approach to government pension schemes (when this happened the unfunded pension liability of central government alone was about Rs four lakh crore- no need to get scared, the unfunded liability of private pension funds in US at that time had crossed $4 trillion ), we coolly discontinued pension scheme in the organized sector and introduced what is now known as National Pension System, which has none of the features that differentiates a pension scheme from Contributory Provident Fund for government and public sector employees joining service from various dates beginning January 1, 2004. Now different pension and retirement benefit products are thrust upon employees in the organized sector across sectors and income groups. Mentioned this in some detail to emphasise that the future social security schemes will have to be universal covering workers in both organized and unorganized sectors.
If there is a will, there is a way. Once social security, like Basic Minimum Income, is accepted as a priority, no one can scare a government by talking about resources constraints. The resources must come from the remuneration of the workers earned during their working life. If government or other employers did not factor in the cost of post-retirement life in the wages they paid, they will have to compensate by contributing to the corpus of the fund proposed to be set up for social security initiatives now. Similarly, well-paid workers should be encouraged to save more by appropriate disincentives for diverting income (these could also be tax-related).
All unclaimed deposits and unpaid claims for want of details of the beneficiaries lying idle with organisations including in the private sector(like insurance companies, banks, provident funds and so on)  should  be pooled and ploughed into the corpus of the social security fund. GOI may have to work out a consensus on the idea by bringing state governments and major corporates on the same page. Corporates will be too willing as some of them are eager to increase their share in social responsibility.
M G Warrier, Mumbai


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