Sunday, November 13, 2022

My Reading on DOT's Note Sheet


                                                  My Reading on DOT's Note Sheet

I happened to go through the Note Sheet of DOT's pension section circulated by some friends. That note sheet was the basis for Official side Views for the the held Oct 17th Meeting of 2022. I have given  my reading of that note in two parts.  In Part one what the note sheet speaks about pension revision in its background is dealt. In Part two, I placed my comments.

Normally note sheet can be obtained through RTI and it can be provided if the concerned felt that it comes within the ambit of RTI provisions. We do not know how this one is obtained. If it is circulated by DOT itself, then it should be sent to all the participant Associations on oct 17th meeting. If that is not the case, it is a kind of leakage of official information in connivance with some insider. If DOT is  having no other intention like gauging the pulse of pensioners, then they may view it- the leakage seriously and that will harm  relations with the associations.

The Note sheet relates to revision of Pension of BSNL/MTNL absorbed retirees getting pension from DOT on their combined service of both DOT and BSNL/MTNL

                                                                          Part one

In the Background note the following are the broad observations/inputs of DOT

1. 7th CPC recommendations are only applicable to Govt employees who are getting Pay/ Pension on CDA pattern. The orders issued by DOPPW for revision of pension are not applicable to BSNL/MTNL

2. The Pay of serving employees in BSNL/MTNL has not been revised so far due to affordability clause in 3rd PRC

3. For IDA pensioners retired from BSNL/MTNL their pension was implemented after 2nd PRC and on approval 0f cabinet

4. Various associations represented   demanding revision of pension on 7th CPC/3rd PRC basis. The two contentions of them for pension revision are

a. Pension is not linked with 3rd PRC Pay revision or on the basis of affordability- paying capacity of BSNL

b. Pension contribution is already paid by BSNL

5. AIBSNLPWA in its representation dt 25-7-2022 requested pension revision from 1-1-2017 demanding ‘extending 7th CPC CDA pension revision by way of notional fixation w.e.f 1-1-2016’

6. Due to poor financial conditions and not meeting the criteria of  3rd PRC  employees of BSNL/MTNL on the same pay fixed after 2nd PRC.

7. If pension of pre 2017 is revised based on 3rd PRC before corresponding revision of pay for employees, it will create anomaly. BSNL paid pension contribution on 2nd PRC rates only.

8. The demand of fitment factor of CDA on current IDA pay  scales  does not seem to be rational.

9. Allowing to switch back to current CDA scales now ( I repeat now) may set a wrong precedent.

10. On referring the issue to DOT, DOPPW observed that  affecting pension revision before implementing 3rd PRC will create anomaly between pre 2017 and post 2017 pensioners and so  come up with a proposal which shall not create any such anomalous situation.

11. IFD has opined that pension revision shall be taken up after implementation of 3rd PRC for serving employees.

12. DOPPW observed what would be the formula for revision and what would be the financial implications need to brought  by DOT.

For this DOT has given its comments.

a. BSNL/MTNL is not qualifying the criterion of 3rd PRC and 3rd PRC has not been implemented in these PSUs so far. This fact with 3rd PRC fitment formulations 15 %, 10%, 5% and NIL have to be taken into account for any proposal for Pension revision.

13. DOT's proposals to DOPPw: Taking the following factors

a. If revision similar demands from serving employees creating unrest,

b. even NIL fitment is higher than unrevised scales of 2nd PRC IDA,

c. absence of any benchmark for revision

The benefits of 3rd PRC may be extended to the pensioners by merging the basic and IDA/DR as on 1-1-2017 with NIL fitment factor and placement in the revised pay scales of the 3rd PRC. This would ensure that the pensioners are not placed below the minimum of the 3rd PRC scales.

Further and  when 3rd PRC is implemented in BSNL/MTNL, the same fitment factor may be extended to all the pensioners.

The financial implications of merger of DA and placement in the revised scales would be roughly around 5 % more of the present 13 459 crore for more than 3.5 lakh pensioners.

14 . For removing anomalies vis a vis post 1-1-2017 pensioners, the pension of Post 2016 pensioners shall be revised on the notional pay derived after merging the basic with IDA as on 1-1-2017. Subsequent pay updations by way of promotion annual increments etc will be calculated on notional basis till his retirement for post 2017 retiress. In this case, PPO shall be prepared not on the basis of last pay drawn, but on the basis notional pay so derived. This will require amendment of Rule 44 of CCS Pension rules 2021.

15. The following preliminaries are needed to set things right for pension revision

   a. Relaxation of 15 a  of 37 of 2021 rules.

  b. Whether PPO on notional pay can be given

 c. DOPPW advise if any other anomaly arise out of this

if all those above agreed in principle then

d. DOT to notify approved 3rd PRC scales for Pre 2017 BSNL IDA

e. BSNL would notify the revised scales for non- executives to enable their pension revision along with that of Executives

f.BSNL need to pay pension contirbution at 3rd PRC scales w.e.f 1-1-2017

This note was approved by Member services- the case is recommended as proposed which is simple merger of IDA with basic as on 1-1-2017 and thereafter on notional basis. The fitment will be zero even though there was profitability

Thereafter to Member F and Secretary DOT.

DOPPW has replied back by stating that it has no objection to the proposals and DOT as the ministry concerned is the best to have realistic evaluation and fitment  decision.


                                                                  Part Two

Note sheet is not in its full form- only portions from 69/N circulated. We do not know what is in the previous pages. But with the available information one can read DOT's mind.

DOT  negated   applicability of CPC recommendations in the present context only. They used the word "NOW". That is as long as there is a future pensioner on a particular date of effect, this problem arises. If there is no such IDA pensioner on that particular date and all are pre pensioners of that cut off date, then the question of CPC may gain its respectability and logic.

If the applicability of 3rd PRC criterion is there then it should be 15 %, 10 % and 5 % only and there is no such criterion as NIL in 3rd PRC recommendations or order. If even ‘no 5 %’ then only ‘non applicability’ is there and ‘no such NIL with IDA merger’ is there.

I am not doubting or questioning the intention of DOT when sending proposal for IDA merger with NIL. I understand the intention  of DOT is to enhance the minimum pension criteria of 9000 with the equivalent to 3rd PRC scales than any pension revision.

They mention post 2016 pensioners because some of the 7th CPC benefits like linking Gratuity with DA increase, minimum and maximum pension etc need to be incorporated from the same eligible date of CPC in the order of DOT for pension revision.

Regarding the Post 2017 proposal, the Trade Unions should understand it with all serious attention. It is not going to be applicable to those pensioners retiring from 1-1-2017 to this date or the date of order for pension revision alone , but it goes beyond that  upto 2026 December retirees and even beyond that starting from 2027 till that is changed by next revision.

The  employees  that is post 2017 pensioners will not get any actual benefit from 1-1-2017. They get the 3rd PRC Pension IDA merger benefit only at the date of retirement. Their real last drawn will not be taken but notional pay derived will be taken for pension fixation if  it is advantageous for pension fixation.  The implications on other pensionary benefits like Gratuity, Commutation, Leave compensation are there – they need to be addressed. They will not get the benefit of HRA as there is no pay revision actual on 1-1-2017.

Pay revision  is  not yet closed by DOT saying anything that there will not be 3rd PRC  Pay revision at all. It is even saying that fitment for pensioners will be extended   as that of BSNL if that one is decided for BSNL employees.

Once it is an amendment it stands ever. As 37 A is basically for employees absorbed in the PSUs, any change and its implications should be put into practice  only after taking the Trade Unions also into confidence. This point DOT is missing and Trade Unions should not miss it.

DOT is here in the note sheet referring only notification of 3rd PRC approved scales for Pre 2017   pension revision. It is for BSNL retired executives only. There is no mention about MTNL here for the same notification.

DOT is reporting that BSNL would notify Non executive 3rd PRC scales for their pension revision to enable them to get revision along with Executives. The intention of DOT may be good but how BSNL can notify without any agreement with Unions. Can BSNL notify on its own accord the pay scales of Non- Executives only for notional pay based pension fixation purpose? can the Trade Unions agree only approved pay scales without any form of Pay revision for the sake of delinking? These are some questions need to be addressed. I have been repeatedly telling if there is delinking- spoiling the hitherto held interconnectivity, then it means NO PAY REVISION. Atleast we need reverse linking if DOT accepts fitment  5 % or 10 %.

DOT is not going extra mile by taking up the Executive's Pay revision seeking exemption from DPE or GOI  who ever the authority. But DOT is closing its eyes with regard to helping BSNL to implement any pay revision for Executives and NE. It is upto unions to gear up any momentum taking all the factors before them.

Regarding pension contribution DOT is  seeking  from BSNL as that of new scales . There is no such 'notional pension contribution',   ‘contribution’ means it is actual from Jan 2017. Unless BSNL is given an exemption for some period either upto the  period of the date of Issue of Pension revision order or atleast upto the date implementation of VRS, it is difficult for the BSNL to contribute more only for the revision of Pension not for its own employees pay revision. It is more sentimental and moral also.

The victim to some extent would be the employees who are still serving and having service for the entire  3rd PRC 10 years period. They will not get anything unless pay revision issue is pushed for them. This employees include all the direct recruited also. For the absorbed thay may be given consolation for pension fixation on derived notional pay which is in principle against the benefit of all those retirees enjoyed through 37 A all these years in the name of Govt formula.

We are now letting down that famous sub rule for the sake of delinking fought by com O P Gupta and  others  all along in their evening of their life. The concept of actual  last pay drawn is going to be dimmed for the sake of closing the interconnectivity of Pay revision and pension revision.  Fortunately DOT has not taken the position of ignoring 3rd PRC scales as of now. Trade Unions specially Executives and NE should  take note of the situation and   bring changes in favour pay revision also as pension revision is now agreed by DOT.

If pay revision is also agreed then real last pay drawn issue will be settled to the advantage of employees still serving. Let us hope for the best.

My best wishes to the Association of Pensioners for making DOT to the negotiating table and make them to take up the issue of Pension revision .

13-11-2022   15 hrs                                           - R. Pattabiraman

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