Economy

Economists Write to Jaitley, Seek Increase in Pension, Maternity Benefits in Next Budget

The letter says that Union budget 2018-19 should provide for full-fledged implementation of maternity benefits as per the National Food Security Act 2013.

For maternity benefits, the letter says that Union budget 2018-19 should provide for full-fledged implementation of maternity benefits as per the NFSA. Credit: Reuters

New Delhi: Sixty development economists in India have written to Union finance minister Arun Jaitley today, asking for substantive increases in  social security pension and maternity benefit in the forthcoming budget.

The signatories have urged the central government to raise its contribution to old-age pension fund (under the National Old Age Pension Scheme), from the current Rs 200 per month to a minimum of Rs 500. This would require an additional financial allocation of Rs 8,640 crores by the centre. The economists have also requested the government to increase widow pension from the current Rs 300 to Rs 500, requiring an additional allocation of Rs 1,680 crore. The letter says:

The Central government’s contribution to old-age pensions under the National Old Age Pension Scheme (NOAPS) scheme has remained at a measly Rs 200 per month since 2006. This is extraordinarily stingy. It is also a missed opportunity: NOAPS is a good scheme (with low leakages and administrative costs) that reaches some of the poorest members of society.

For maternity benefits, the letter says that Union budget 2018-19 should provide for full-fledged implementation of maternity benefits as per the National Food Security Act 2013 (NFSA), which would require at least Rs 8,000 crores. The letter says:

Maternity benefits of Rs 6,000 per child are a legal entitlement of all Indian women (except those already covered in the formal sector) under the National Food Security Act 2013. For more than three years, the central government did virtually nothing about this.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi on December 31, 2016 had announced that maternity benefits would be provided soon. Yet one year later, the new scheme – Pradhan Mantri Matru Vandana Yojana (PMMVY) – still remains to be operationalised. The provision made for the scheme under the last Union budget – Rs 2,700 crores – is less than one-third of the required amount under the NFSA.

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Signatories include:

  1. Abhijeet Singh (Assistant Professor of Economics, Stockholm School of Economics)
  2. Abhijit Banerjee (Professor of Economics, MIT)
  3. Aditya Bhattacharjea (Professor of Economics, Delhi School of Economics)
  4. Ajit Ranade (Chief Economist, Aditya Birla Group)
  5. Ashok Kotwal (Professor of Economics, University of British Columbia)
  6. Ashwini Deshpande (Professor of Economics, Delhi School of Economics)
  7. Atul Sarma (Visiting Professor, Council for Social Development)
  8. Bharat Ramaswami (Professor of Economics, Indian Statistical Institute, New Delhi)
  9. C. Rammanohar Reddy (Visiting Research Professor, University of Goa)
  10. Debraj Ray (Professor of Economics, New York University)
  11. Deepti Goel (Assistant Professor of Economics, Delhi School of Economics)
  12. Dibyendu Maiti (Associate Professor of Economics, Delhi School of Economics)
  13. Dilip Abreu (Professor of Economics, New York University)
  14. Dilip Mookherjee (Professor of Economics, Boston University)
  15. Dipa Sinha (Assistant Professor, Ambedkar University, Delhi)
  16. Gaurav Datt (Associate Professor of Economics, Monash University)
  17. Himanshu (Associate Professor of Economics, Jawaharlal Nehru University)
  18. Farzana Afridi (Associate Professor of Economics, Indian Statistical Institute, New Delhi)
  19. Jayati Ghosh (Professor of Economics, Jawaharlal Nehru University)
  20. Jean Drèze (Honorary Professor, Delhi School of Economics)
  21. Jeemol Unni (Professor of Economics, Ahmedabad University)
  22. J.V. Meenakshi (Professor of Economics, Delhi School of Economics)
  23. K. Nagaraj (Adjunct Faculty, Asian College of Journalism)
  24. K.P. Kannan (Honorary Fellow, Centre for Development Studies, Trivandrum)
  25. Kirit Parikh (Emeritus Professor, Indira Gandhi Institute of Development Research, Mumbai)
  26. Leela Visaria (Honorary Professor, Gujarat Institute of Development Research, Ahmedabad)
  27. Maitreesh Ghatak (Professor of Economics, London School of Economics)
  28. Manoj Panda (Director, Institute of Economic Growth, Delhi)
  29. Mausumi Das (Associate Professor of Economics, Delhi School of Economics)
  30. Mihir Shah (Visiting Professor, Shiv Nadar University)
  31. Nalini Nayak (retired Associate Professor, PGDAV (M) College, New Delhi)
  32. Naman Garg (Research Scholar, Columbia University)
  33. Naresh Saxena (retired Secretary, Planning Commission)
  34. Param Jit (Associate Professor of Economics, Delhi School of Economics)
  35. Paul Niehaus (Associate Professor of Economics, University of California San Diego)
  36. Pranab Bardhan (Professor Emeritus of Economics, University of California Berkeley)
  37. Pranab Mukhopadhyay (Professor of Economics, Goa University)
  38. Pulapre Balakrishnan (Professor of Economics, Ashoka University)
  39. Pulin Nayak (retired Professor of Economics, Delhi School of Economics)
  40. R. Nagaraj (Professor of Economics, Indira Gandhi Institute of Development Research, Mumbai)
  41. Raji Jayaraman (Professor of Economics, ESMT Berlin)
  42. Ravinder Kaur (Professor, Indian Institute of Technology, Delhi)
  43. Reetika Khera (Associate Professor, Indian Institute of Technology, Delhi)
  44. Rohini Pande (Professor of Public Policy, Harvard Kennedy School)
  45. Rohini Somanathan (Professor of Economics, Delhi School of Economics)
  46. S. Mahendra Dev (Director, Indira Gandhi Institute of Development Research, Mumbai)
  47. Santosh Panda (Professor of Economics, South Asian University)
  48. Shreekant Gupta (Professor of Economics, Delhi School of Economics)
  49. Sreenivasan Subramanian (Professor of Economics, Madras Institute of Development Studies)
  50. Srijit Mishra (Professor of Economics, Indira Gandhi Institute of Development Research)
  51. Sudha Narayanan (Associate Professor, Indira Gandhi Institute of Development Research)
  52. Sugata Bag (Assistant Professor of Economics, Delhi School of Economics)
  53. Sujata Visaria (Associate Professor of Economics, University of Hong Kong)
  54. Sukhadeo Thorat (Professor Emeritus, Jawaharlal Nehru University)
  55. Sunil Kanwar (Professor of Economics, Delhi School of Economics)
  56. Surender Kumar (Professor of Economics, Delhi School of Economics)
  57. Tridip Ray (Professor of Economics, Indian Statistical Institute)
  58. Uday Bhanu Sinha (Professor of Economics, Delhi School of Economics)
  59. Vijay Joshi (Emeritus Fellow, Merton College, Oxford University)
  60. Vijay S. Vyas (Professor Emeritus, Institute of Development Studies, Jaipur)

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