In an open letter addressed to finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman, 51 eminent economists demanded an increase in social security pensions and made adequate provision for maternity benefits, The Times of India reported.
The signatories to the letter are 51 eminent economists, Jean Drèze (honorary professor, Delhi School of Economics), Pranab Bardhan (professor emeritus of economics, University of California Berkeley), R Nagaraj (professor of economics, IGIDR, Mumbai), Reetika Khera (professor of economics, IIT, Delhi), and Sukhadeo Thorat (professor emeritus, JNU), among and others.
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Regarding social security pensions, the letter says that the central government’s contribution to old-age pensions under the National Old Age Pension Scheme (NOAPS) scheme has stagnated at just ₹200 per month since 2006, the report said.
According to these economists, this is unfair. It is also a missed opportunity.
“This requires an additional allocation of ₹7,560 crore or so, based on the current NOAPS coverage (2.1 crore pensioners)," the report said quoting the letter, adding that similarly, widow pensions should be raised from ₹300 per month to ₹500 at the very least. As per the letter, this would cost just another ₹1,560 crore.
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Recommending full-fledged implementation of maternity entitlements, as per NFSA norms, the economists write that it would require, at least, ₹8,000 crore. Along with this, the illegal restriction of maternity benefits to one child per woman should be removed.
Additionally, the finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman will present the 2023-24 budget in parliament on February 1, 2023.