The government signs a pact on online pension services | Latest India News

The government’s Department of Defense Accounts (DAD) on Thursday signed a memorandum of understanding with CSC e-Governance Services India Limited to make pension-related online services accessible to ex-servicemen settled in remote parts of the country, it said. announced Thursday the Ministry of Defense.

The development comes at a time when millions of ex-servicemen are about to be transferred from an old system to a new online pension payment model called SPARSH (System for Pension Administration-Raksha). CSC e-Governance Services India Limited is a special purpose entity under the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology.

The tie-up will allow former military personnel to access SPARSH services at more than four lakh Joint Service Centers (CSCs) across India from March, as first reported by the Hindustan Times on February 22.

The MoU will provide last mile connectivity to retirees, especially those residing in remote areas and those who lack the means or technical means to connect to SPARSH, the ministry said in a statement. communicated.

“For these retirees, the Service Centers will become an interface for SPARSH and provide an efficient means for retirees to make profile update requests, register complaints and seek redress, digital annual identification, verification of pensioner data or simply to retrieve detailed information regarding their monthly pension,” the ministry said.

The MoU was signed by Comptroller of Defense Accounts (CDA)-Pensions Sham Dev and CEO of CSC e-Governance Services India Sanjay Kumar Rakesh in the presence of Secretary of Defense Ajay Kumar.

SPARSH was set up last year to facilitate different aspects of defense pensions, including initiation, sanctioning, calculation, review and disbursement. The system consists of crediting pensions directly to the accounts of former soldiers without depending on banks.

India has over 3.3 million defense retirees. About 500,000 of them have been moved to the new system and the migration will be completed within the next six months.

The Defense Secretary said the MoU will help deliver retirement services digitally to the most remote corners of the country and ensure that no retiree is deprived of their rightful benefits due to technological or geographical.

DAD operated a key initiative under the Digital India program at a time when some ex-servicemen have reported concerns about the accessibility of SPARSH portal services in remote areas.

Earlier this month, Hindustan Times reported initial problems in SPARSH which resulted in hundreds of former servicemen not receiving high cost relief with their January pensions and several female officers not receiving pension receipt for almost a year.

The DAD resolved the first case within 48 hours as the process of awarding a pension to female officers of the Short Term Commission (SSC) as well as arrears has already begun. They should receive their dues by the end of the month.

DAD also on Thursday signed a pact with Kotak Mahindra Bank to set up SPARSH service centers in 14 branches located in areas with a high concentration of ex-servicemen. These centers will be in addition to more than 800 already functioning SPARSH Service Centers in State Bank of India and Punjab National Bank branches across the country, 161 DAD offices and 50 Armed Forces Registrar offices.

SPARSH was implemented at a cost of approximately 160 crore. The move to an online pension disbursement system will save the government approximately 250 crores per year, as banks no longer have to pay monthly fees for processing repos.

The move to SPARSH, however, is still met with skepticism by some former servicemen.

“I believe the legacy system has worked well for veterans. The government should have continued. Connectivity in remote parts of Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand and Arunachal Pradesh is an issue,” Lt Gen DB Shekatkar (Retired) said earlier this week.

The department said SPARSH had “fundamentally redesigned” the pension disbursement process, with the motto “the right pension paid at the right time”.

“A recent example of the effectiveness of SPARSH has been the release of over 196 crores of extra gratuity in just 30 days for 43,370 retirees, a mammoth exercise that would have taken over six months to process through the legacy disbursement system. The additional gratuity is a result of the announcement of increased DA for veterans who retired between June 2021 and January 2022,” the statement added.

Veronica J. Snell