Seventh Pay Commission Report: NPS Recommendations

Here are the recommendations in the seventh pay Commission report on the National Pension Scheme (NPS), aka the National Pension System.

The full report can be downloaded from here: http://finmin.nic.in/7cpc/7cpc_report_eng.pdf. NPS Recommendations can found on page 421.

In the introduction to this section, an astonishing fact is revealed.

In 1993-94, the total pension liability of central government employees was 0.6% of the GDP. This rose to 1.66% in 2002-03. CAGR of the pension expenditure was an astonishing 21% which put huge stress on the fiscal deficits. It became impossible to continue the defined benefit scheme which provided indexed pensions (DA twice a year). Hence was born the NPS, a defined contribution scheme.

The report lists the following as grievances of government employees against the NPS

  1. Market risk and uncertain future corpus
  2. 10% mandatory contribution a little too much(!)
  3. Some employees want only the government contribution to be eligible for pension just like EPF.
  4. No refundable advances possible with NPS unlike GPF! This make them borrow from elsewhere.
  5. Tax treatment: “lump sum withdrawals from NPS at any time are taxable at par with any other income. In addition, there is a service tax liability on any amount utilised for purchase of annuity”. This is important. Some ‘experts’ believed that for government employees, the lump sum amount is tax-free as it can be treated as a commuted pension. The commission’s statement reveals that such belief is baseless and as per current law, everyone has to pay tax as per slab.
  6. The annuity in NPS will not be indexed and will not increase due to future pay commissions. Both features are available under the previous scheme.
  7. Government employees can neither change fund managers nor the asset allocation.
  8. In contrast to pt 2, some people believe the total contribution may not be sufficient to generate enough corpus.

Recommendations

  1. The commission like the lifecycle based asset allocation option available in NPS (decrease equity exposure with age) and suggests tha this along with other asset allocation option be given to government employees.
  2. An expert body should analyze the 10% employee + 10% employer contribution and consider if this should be increased.
  3. All NPS contributions should be effected without delay, especially for new entrants.
  4. The commission notes (incorrectly) that Tier II is not operational.
  5. NPS awareness camps should be increased in number.
  6. NPS ombudsman should be created.
  7. No department of Government of India is taking ownership of the NPS. A government nominated committee should review progrress of NPS penetration.
  8. Tax Treatment under the NPS. Here is the extract:

NPS is under the Exempt–Exempt – Tax (EET) regime while the General Provident Fund under the OPS is under Exempt–Exempt–Exempt (EEE) dispensation. Under the NPS, while the contributions and the accumulations are tax-exempt, withdrawals are taxable. As such, this is an inferior tax treatment when compared to other pension programmes such as General Provident Fund, Contributory Provident Fund, Employees Provident Fund and Public Provident Fund wherein contributions, accumulations and withdrawals are tax-exempt. The Commission feels that tax neutrality should be ensured across various avenues for long term savings for post retirement incomes so that the employees covered by NPS are not at a disadvantage. The Commission therefore recommends that withdrawals under the NPS should be tax-exempt to place NPS at par with other pension schemes. The Commission also recommends that the service tax levied at the time of annuity purchase by NPS subscribers should be exempted.

Note:

These recommendations apply only to government employees. However, these are only recommendations. It would be unfair to individual and corporate subscribers if NPS is made EEE only for government employees. I hope such a disparity does not occur.

You can also try the Seventh Pay Commission Calculator: Pay Fixation with Pay Matrix


About the Author M Pattabiraman author of freefincal.comM. Pattabiraman is the co-author of two books: You can be rich too with goal based investing and Gamechanger. “Pattu” as he is popularly known, publishes unbiased, promotion-free research, analysis and holistic money management advice. Freefincal serves more than one million readers a year with numbers based analysis on topical issues and has more than a 100 free calculators on different aspects of insurance and investment analysis, including a robo advisory template for use by beginners. Contact information: freefincal {at} Gmail {dot} com He conducts free money management sessions for corporates (see details below). Previous engagements include World Bank, RBI, BHEL, Asian Paints.

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Updated: October 7, 2017 — 12:07 pm

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