Monday, July 4, 2011

11 lakh ex-servicemen pensions held back
11 lakh ex-servicemen pensions held back

Huma Siddiqui

Posted online: 2011-06-30

New Delhi : An allocation of R2,200 crore made in the 2009-10 Budget is lying unspent as the government has failed to figure out how to calculate and disburse pension to retired defence personnel.
After a sustained demand for more than two years from ex-servicemen, who were seeking “one rank, one pension”, the ministry of defence (MoD) decided in 2009 to enhance the pension of nearly 14 lakh defence personnel retiring before 2006. A new regime of Parity in Pensions was put in place and the same was announced in the 2009-10 Budget. The new system is applicable to JCOs and other ranks.

Talking to FE, Indian Ex-servicemen Movement (IESM) treasurer Wg Cdr CK Sharma (retd) said, “The amount has been sanctioned for disbursal. However, each individual bank is expected to do the necessary calculation in each case and then do the needful.”
“All these years, the system had been that any time there was a change in the pension rates, the Principal Controller of Defence Accounts (Pension) would issue an amended Preferred Provider Organisation (PPO) for each individual, which would clearly mention the dues of an individual. The government, after the Sixth Pay Commission, has shirked this responsibility and palmed it off to the Pension Disbursing Authority (PDA), which means the bank,” Sharma explained.
According to government sources, so far only 3 lakh out of the 14 lakh ex-servicemen have managed to get the calculation done and get the enhanced pension.
“In some cases, where an individual is fortunate enough to have a bank with a clued-in staff, the work has been done and the money paid. However, as on today, such banks are very few,” . The huge majority have not got the amount due to them as the banks claim they do not have adequate staff to do these calculations, “ pointed out Sharma.
A new software, called Suwigya, has been introduced where an individual can enter his basic information and the software works out the pension dues. According to a official, the basic fact that needs to be remembered is that “a huge majority of the retired jawans from the Army, Navy and the Air Force live in villages and small towns. While a bank manager in Delhi may be guided by people around on how to go about doing these calculations, it is going to be a grave, uphill task for all the others”.

In July 2009, defence minister A K Antony had informed the Lok Sabha: “The government has accepted the recommendations of the cabinet secretary-led panel on ‘one rank, one pension’ and total financial implications on account of benefits to the personnel would be R2,144 crore.”

The committee had recommended inclusion of a Classification Allowance for the Personnel Below Officer Rank (PBOR) from January 1, 2006 and removal of linkage of full pension with 33 years from the same date

Senate panel passes bill on job training for military

Senate panel passes bill on job training
for military
By Steve Vogel,
Published: July 1
The Senate Committee on Veterans’ Affairs has approved legislation that would require broad job-skills training for all U.S. service members before leaving the military.
The bill, aimed at cutting the high unemployment rate among veterans of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, was unanimously endorsed by the panel Wednesday.
The legislation would provide “veterans with the broad job-skills training and support they need to break down barriers to employment,” committee Chairman Patty Murray (D-Wash.) said. “For the first time, this comprehensive bill will require service members to learn how to translate the skills they learned in the military into the working world.”
The Hiring Heroes Act of 2011 would require all departing service members to participate in the Transition Assistance Program, administered by the Labor Department in partnership with the departments of Defense and Veterans Affairs. The training, now voluntary, includes job-search techniques, resume writing and interviewing tips.
“We ask our military men and women to risk their lives for our country each and every day,” said Sen. Mark Begich (D-Alaska), a bill sponsor. “The least we can do is make sure they don’t have to struggle to stay healthy or get back to work when they come home.”
More than one in four veterans ages 20 to 24 are unemployed, according to Labor Department figures.
The bill would modify federal hiring practices to encourage the hiring of departing service members and would allow service members to begin the federal employment hiring process before their separation from the military. “It will . . . ensure that more veterans have jobs waiting for them when they leave the military by streamlining the path to private and federal employment,” Murray said.