“For the first time, a clause in OROP was openly rejected. The Finance Minister has refused to give annual increment for pensioners like servicemen get.”
“The task of the finance minister is very much like the housewife’s. She has to spend each and every rupee wisely to make sure that there is no cash crunch towards the end of the month,” Finance Minister Arun Jaitley told the reporters during a press meet.
Ex-servicemen have been fighting for the past 78 days demanding the implementation of One Rank One Pension. The finance minister told the reporters, “We are ready to give them OROP, but we cannot give them annual increments like they demand. We can consider revisions once every five years. The 7th Pay Commission will soon submit its report to the Government. If we have to implement their recommendations and the OROP, there will be additional expenses. We’ll have to manage that too.”
He also said that the Central was committed to the long pending demand of One Rank One Pension but the ‘only difficulty’ as the ‘arithmetical translation’.
“My work is very similar to the responsibilities of a housewife. She has to run the family with the money that her husband brings and ensure that there is no cash shortage throughout the month. Therefore, we will not be able to give a 3% annual increment on the pension that is being demanded by the veterans.
“We have the responsibility of looking after these soldiers who retire at the age of 35 or 38. We agree to implement the OROP scheme. Pensioners are likely to see a substantial increase in their pensions. But it is impossible to increase the pension each year. Accepting these “unreasonable concessions” will form the basis for others like BSF and CRPF to make similar demands.
“I have, in my mind, an opinion and formula for OROP scheme. Others too will have their own opinions and formulae, but they have to be reasonable and rational criteria. OROP may not be a scheme with monthly or annual revisions,” he said.
Two major obstacles are, one is yearly increment and another issue of base year. There have been several rounds of talks between the official and the protesting veterans on this issues. But all of those have failed.
The pension drawn by soldiers who had retired earlier much less pension, when compared with the pension received by those who had retired recently. Instead of taking into account the calendar year in which the soldier retires, OROP fixes the pension on the basis of the rank and the number of years the soldier had served, to calculate his pension. Any future enhancement in the rates of pension, it would benefit all the ex-servicemen. This is the most important feature of the scheme.
More than 20 lakh veterans and 6 lakh war widows all over the country are hoping that their pensions will be revised based on OROP Scheme effective from 1.4.2014.