PM pension schemes for very poor, small traders get off to a slow start

The two old-age pension schemes launched last year – one for the poorest of the poor namely street vendors, rickshaw pullers and rag pickers and the other for self-employed and small traders – have had only modest starts.

According to official data, only 43.88 lakh people have so far joined the Pradhan Mantri Shram-Yogi Maandhan (PMSYM) scheme, meant for the lowest strata of the society. The scheme was launched in February last year with a target to cover 10 crore people in five years.

Similarly, till now, only 39,072 ‘vyaparis’ have enrolled under the Pradhan Mantri Karam Yogi Maandhan Scheme (PMKYMS), rolled out on September 12, 2019. This scheme has an ambitious target to get three crore retail traders and shopkeepers enrolled, although no timeframe has been set.

The budgetary allocation for PMSYM for FY21 is Rs 500 crore, while that for the PMKYMS is Rs 180 crore.

The traders’ scheme is limited to those with annual turnover up to Rs 1.5 crore and a monthly pension of Rs 3,000 is offered on attaining the retirement age.

Those belong to the entry age group of 18-40 years are eligible for the schemes. These are voluntary and contributory schemes.

Now, with the lockdown in force since March 25, it would be practically impossible for these small traders and marginal workers to make their monthly contribution, and defaults are bound to happen. But, the government has so far remained silent on waiving off contributions. Officials at the labour ministry said the matter can be looked into at a later date.