India’s Controller-General for Defense Accounts (CGDA) said on Sunday a flaw in the government’s new pension payout system, which affected hundreds of ex-servicemen, has been fixed.
The development came two days after Hindustan Times highlighted that several veterans, including three-star officers, were not being paid Love Relief (DR) – a key part of their retirement income – for January 2022 due to the flaw in the system.
The CGDA, which reports to the Ministry of Defence, said DR had been credited to their accounts. It attributed the problem to “error in bank details”.
“Almost 5 LAKH monthly pensions successfully paid out via #SPARSH for January 2022. Dearness Relief (DR) for 1048 veterans who were omitted due to errors in bank information was corrected and paid out in less than 48 hours of reporting. Efficient. Effective. Digital,” the CGDA said on Twitter.
Central government employees and pensioners are entitled to DR equal to 31% of their basic salary or pension. The glitch resulted in retired colonels, for example, being paid around €31,000 fewer than the usual and former lieutenant generals around €37,000 less.
Four former three-star generals confirmed to HT that DR was credited to their bank accounts on Saturday night.
“I’m glad CGDA was quick to respond to the HT report and hope no more glitches are in store. However, many of us still think there was no need to tinker with the previous system where pensions were the responsibility of the banks,” said a former lieutenant general.
The pension issues now resolved arose after the government switched to a new online pension payment system controlled by the Allahabad-based Principal Controller of Defense Accounts (Pensions) to facilitate various aspects of defense pensions including initiation, sanction, calculation and audit and payout.
The system, called SPARSH or System for Pension Administration (Raksha), involves the direct crediting of pensions to ex-soldiers’ accounts without relying on outside intermediaries (banks). The officers affected were those who retired after 2016 as retirees are phased into the new system.
According to the PCDA(P), the comprehensive pension package SPARSH, an end-to-end online system, aims to ensure the “right payment to the right pensioner at the right time through digital processing” of the pensions of more than three million defense pensioners.
The PCDA(P) says the need for SPARSH was recognized to circumvent and address existing challenges in the pension sanctioning and payout process, such as “decentralized solution in silos, manual intervention in processing and lack of centralized information to respond to pensioner queries “.