Bharat Express

Nirmala Sitharaman Responds to Jairam Ramesh’s Critique of Pension Scheme

Today, Congress Criticizes Modi Government Over Atal Pension Yojana, Labeling it a “Poorly-Designed Scheme” and a “Paper Tiger”

Nirmala Sitharaman has hit back at Jairam Ramesh for his criticism of Atal Pension Yojana

Nirmala Sitharaman has hit back at Jairam Ramesh for his criticism of Atal Pension Yojana

In response to Congress General Secretary Jairam Ramesh’s critique of the Atal Pension Yojana as a “poorly designed scheme,” Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman issued a sharp rebuke, accusing the Congress of preferring that the poor remain without pensions to perpetuate dependency on government handouts and “dynasty politicians.”

Sitharaman dismissed Ramesh’s remarks, stating that the Atal Pension Yojana is meticulously crafted based on best practices in choice architecture, aiming to ensure continued premium payment unless the subscriber opts out. She emphasized the scheme’s deliberate design to encourage individuals to save for retirement, citing the renowned economists Richard Thaler and Cass Sunstein’s work on the importance of proper choice architecture in public schemes.

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Addressing Ramesh’s assertion that the scheme offers fixed income pension, Sitharaman clarified that the minimum return under the Atal Pension Yojana is guaranteed by the Government of India to be at least 8 percent, regardless of prevailing interest rates. She highlighted that any shortfall in returns is subsidized by the government, and currently, returns exceed 8 percent. Sitharaman condemned Ramesh’s accusations of coercion, contrasting it with alleged instances of coercion within the Congress party’s ranks.

Regarding the predominance of pension accounts in lower income brackets, Sitharaman argued that it demonstrates the scheme’s effective targeting towards the poor and lower middle class. She criticized what she termed as the “elitist mindset” of the Congress party, suggesting that they prefer keeping the poor dependent on government handouts.

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Earlier, Jairam Ramesh had criticized the scheme, highlighting reports of subscribers being enrolled without explicit permission and the majority receiving pensions in the lowest income bracket. He characterized the Atal Pension Yojana as a poorly-designed scheme that relies on coercion to attract participants, reflecting what he described as the Modi government’s policy of headline management with few tangible benefits.

Sitharaman countered these claims by highlighting the significant number of beneficiaries and the scheme’s impact in Bengaluru, including providing pensions to over 5.26 lakh individuals aged 60 and above. She underscored the government’s commitment to social security programs like the Atal Pension Yojana, PM Awas Yojana, and Swachh Bharat Abhiyan as essential pillars of its governance agenda.