OROP: Jaitley rules out annual hike

OROP: Jaitley rules out annual hike
Finance Minister Arun Jaitley on Monday has ruled out annual revision of the ex-servicemen pension, as demanded by the retired armed forces personnel who are on the street for the last 78 days seeking immediate implementation of the one rank, one pension scheme.

“We would like to safeguard the interest of those soldiers who retire at age of 35 or 38 years and the society must protect them. Therefore some higher pension on a special formulation is understandable but it can’t be revised every year,” Jaitley said in a television interview.

Annual revision of pension is one of the three core demands of the retired military personnel who are protesting more 78 days and a section of them are on hunger strike.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi said the government accepted the OROP in principle. But the roll out formula has emerged as the bone of contention. “I have my own formula on what OROP means.

Somebody else may have their own formula on OROP but it has to be within reasonable and rational criteria. You can’t have an OROP where pensions are revised every month or every year,” Jaitley said.
Nowhere in the world, pensions are revised annually. The government was committed to OROP but the only difficulty is the “arithmetical translation”, he added.

While one section of the ex-servicemen are sticking to their guns, another group of retired military personnel are willing to be flexible while negotiating with the government.

The veterans, however, accused the government of creating a red herring in the name of three per cent annual pension and blamed Jaitley as the fountainhead of the controversy. They also received support from noted lawyer and Parliament member Ram Jethmalani, who criticised the Modi government on the OROP issue.  “What is shocking is the kind of excuses and issues being brought up from time to time to somehow derail any modicum of talk or understanding between stakeholders that could have resulted in a resolution bynow,” says Col Anil Kaul (rtd), media advisor to the United Front for the Ex-Servicemen Movement.

“The Defence Ministry completed all the calculations and permutations to the last detail and submitted to the Finance Ministry as far back as March 17. It is quite surprising that five months down the line, the Finance Ministry has not shown the ability to give the all clear to the Prime Minister’s Office for implementation,” Kaul says in an open letter.
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