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Employees to get pension payment order on retirement day: Government

In order to check delay in disbursal of pension, the Centre has decided to give Pension Payment Order (PPO) to all central government employees at the time of retirement along with their other dues.At present, the scheme for payment of pensions to central government civil pensioners through authorised banks, issued by the central pension accounting office provides for an undertaking to be submitted by the retiring government servant or pensioner to the pension disbursing bank before commencement of pension.

"It has been found that the first payment of pension after retirement gets delayed mainly due to two reasons. One, the delay in receipt of intimation by the pensioner that pension papers have reached the bank and two, delay on part of the pensioner in approaching the bank for submission of undertaking," the Ministry of Personnel said.The pensioner would no longer be required to visit the bank to activate the first payment of pension, it said in a recent order."Therefore, after ascertaining that the bank's copy has been dispatched by the central pension accounting office, the pensioner's copy of the Pension Payment Order (PPO) may be handed over to him at the time of retirement along with other retirement dues. This should be feasible in all cases where the government servant had submitted pension papers within the time-limits," the Personnel Ministry said.

An employee posted at a location away from the office of the Head of Office or who for any other reasons feels that it would be more convenient to him to obtain his copy of PPO from the bank, may inform the Head of Office of his option in writing while submitting his pension papers, it said.
The Ministry of Personnel has asked Office of Controller General of Accounts to instruct all Pay and Accounts Offices and all pension disbursing banks to follow its directives.There are about 30 lakh Central government pensioners.The Ministry has also issued a proforma of an undertaking to be filled by a pensioner and submitted to pension disbursing bank agreeing "to refund or make good any amount to which he is not entitled to".

PM releases commemorative postage stamps on FIFA World Cup

The Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi today released commemorative postage stamps on the 2014 FIFA World Cup.

Speaking on the occasion, he said sports brings about a spirit of amity and belongingness among nations of the world. May the FIFA World Cup become a bridge for connecting nations together, he said.

Stating that India is preparing to host the under-17 FIFA World Cup, the Prime Minister said India had a glorious history in football, and it was at one time a prominent sport across the country. He urged the Department of Posts to also develop a website on the history of Indian football.

Stressing on the need to inculcate the love of sports among children, Shri Modi said – "jo khele, wo hi khile" – Sports helps in all-round development of a child. Referring to the term "Sportsman Spirit", the Prime Minister referred to the toil and penance of countless sportspersons across the world, which resulted in this term getting such universal acceptance and recognition in a positive sense. If there is no sport, how can there be sportsman spirit in society, Shri Modi asked? He said "Sportsman Spirit" is a lubricant for the health of the society, which is essential for it to prosper.

The Prime Minister observed that commentary, especially radio commentary, probably played a key role in enhancing the popularity of cricket, and the art of commentary should be developed in other sports as well.

The function was attended by several prominent sporting icons including K. Malleswari, Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore, Sunil Chhetri, Sushil Kumar, Ajit Pal Singh, Chunni Goswami, Subrat Bhattacharya, and Kirti Azad. Shri Praful Patel, President, All India Football Federation, and Shri Anurag Thakur were also present on the occasion. Minister for Communications and Information Technology, Shri Ravi Shankar Prasad and Minister of State (I/C) for Youth Affairs and Sports Shri Sarbananda Sonowal also spoke on the occasion.

Postal stamps on Narendra Modi issued in Bihar

A set of four postal stamps and a special cover on Prime Minister Narendra Modi conceptualised by a philatelist from Bihar has been issued by the Department of Posts (DoP). “I conceptualised the stamps and special cover to mark the ascendancy of Narendra Modi as the Prime Minister of India. It was a popular event and not only our own country but the entire world was watching it with keen interest. The DoP issued it under ‘My Stamp’ series on May 26, the day he took oath,” philatelist Pradeep Jain said.

The set of four stamps with a face value of Rs 5 each shows a smiling Modi in four different poses, covered with petals of flowers like Lily, Pansy and Dahlia. The cover depicts a smiling Modi emerging from a fully blossomed lotus. The famous Navkar Mantra of the Jains is printed on the cover, which is titled ‘The Power of Namo’. The stamps and the cover were taken to Delhi by a senior Bihar BJP leader and presented to Modi and BJP President Rajnath Singh.
Seemingly impressed, the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) has contacted him to get a few of them to send them to the neighbouring countries. “I got the idea during the inauguration of Barack Obama as the US President in 2009. It was a popular global event and stamps were released in Washington. If people in US can do this, why can’t we,” asked Jain.

The philatelist, who is a member of Royal Philatelic Society, London, and the only Indian member of the International Association of Philatelic Experts, based in Innsbruck, Austria, scoured the internet to download four photos of Modi. Jain then roped in senior artist Sapan Javeri of National Institute of Design (NID) to bring the concept on paper. Once everything was completed, the DoP was requisitioned to print 1,800 stamps. The entire operation stamp cost him Rs 75,000, which includes Rs 13,000 charged by the DoP. What will he do with the stamps next? “I did it for my own happiness. I will now gift them to people who are keen about having Namo in their stamp collection,” smiled Jain.

Gazetted officer’s attestation no longer required

You may no longer need a gazetted officer or a magistrate to attest documents sought by government departments. Prime Minister Narendra Modi has asked his bureaucrats to repeal all laws and rules which come in the way of effective governance. 

In a meeting with secretaries on Wednesday, the PM suggested government departments should adopt the system of self-attestation of certificates, photographs and marksheets, instead of asking for attested documents or filing of affidavits. He also told officials all government application forms should be made short and simple by doing away with unnecessary fields.

“The prime minister said self attestation should be enough because it is a hassle for the common man to get it attested from gazetted officers. Anyway, the original documents are required to be produced at the final stage,” a senior government official told Business Standard.

Obtaining either an attested copy or affidavit not only costs money but also leads to wastage of time for government officials as well as citizens, including students, job applicants and beneficiaries of various government schemes. Attestation by gazetted officers is required at many places such as applying for a ‘tatkal’ passport, admission in a central or state university or a government job.

The Second Administrative Reforms Commission, in its report in 2009, recommended the adoption of the self-certification provision to simplify procedures. Taking a cue from this, the Ministry of Personnel, Public Grievances and Pensions issued a circular last year, and some departments and state governments such as Gujarat and Goa had adopted it. But it has not been fully enforced at all levels.

The prime minister, who keeps himself updated with the day's news on an iPad and clicks selfies with his smartphone, told bureaucrats that rules and by-laws which hamper the effective use of technology should also be done away with. He asked them to use technology such as internal emails and intranet in a big way.

Another official said Modi was critical of the archaic rules and by-laws which govern the country's law and order departments, and shared anecdotes on how some of those were done away with in Gujarat.

Sources said flying balloons near border areas was prohibited by law because during World War II, because they were used to transmit messages. The provision remained even decades after India’s independence, till Modi took over as chief minister of Gujarat, the sources added.

The Prime Minister has directed his officers to identify 10 rules and regulations which can be scrapped or revisited to make them more effective in today’s environment. He has directed officers to prepare a dossier of such rules and by-laws and present them for review.

He also said rules regarding transfer and postings of officers needed to be changed to ensure there was continuity of service. The Prime Minister added those who are underperforming could lose their promotion prospects.

“The PM said ‘I don’t believe in transfers. Even if a guy doesn’t perform I have to think 15 times what to do with him because I am not transferring a person, I am transferring a problem’,” said another official.

·         Prime Minister Narendra Modi has asked bureaucrats to repeal all laws and rules which come in the way of effective governance. A look at what is planned:
·         The PM has suggested government departments to do away with attestation of certificates by gazetted officers; instead, documents should be self-attested. Original documents, in any case, are required to be produced in the final stages of any government work, bureaucrats said
·         He has suggested to bureaucrats technology should be adopted in a big way. All rules and by-laws, which hamper the effective use of technology, should be done away with, the PM has suggested
·         Modi has directed officers to identify 10 rules that can be scrapped or revisited, to make them more effective in current times. Officers are supposed to prepare a dossier of such rules and present them for review
·         He has proposed rules regarding the transfer and postings of officers be changed to ensure continuity of service


This hoary institution need not turn into a bank. But its rural outreach can help in financial inclusion. India Post has not been granted a banking licence in the current round of allocations. The Reserve Bank’s opinion is that the issue needs more analysis and the Government needs to be consulted. In view of the fact that commercial banks have recorded high non-performing assets, their earlier efforts at extending financial inclusion cannot be easily replicated. Therefore, banks could now consider exploring possibilities with post offices, with a spatial reach, a high level of public trust, a wide customer base and generally well respected staff.

Letters from the past

The Indian postal system has an illustrious history tracing back to the origins in the Mauryan era. The modern postal system was established and strengthened by Lords Robert Clive and Warren Hastings and the GPOs in Calcutta, Madras and Bombay were established in 1774, 1786 and 1793, respectively. As of March 31, 2012, there were 1,54,822 post offices in the country, making it the largest network of its kind in the world, of which 90 per cent were in rural areas. In comparison, at the time of Independence, there were only 23,344 post offices, most of which were in urban areas. 

Historically, the first postal account was opened in the UK in 1861 to encourage the poor to save. The same began in India, soon after postal savings banks started — in 1882. Eventually, by 1896, post offices were the sole savings bank agencies mobilising small savings. They have been in the forefront of offering not only different types of banking facilities such as time and recurring deposits but also offering certificates of different denominations and social security schemes. 

In India, there were nearly 24 crore account holders availing postal banking services at the end of March 2012. In contrast, there were nearly 90 crore deposits and 13 crore credit account holders in commercial banks of which 28 crore deposits and 4 crore credit account holders spread in 35,936 rural branches accounted for 9.4 per cent and 7.9 per cent, respectively of the total amount of deposit and credit of commercial banks. 

Financial inclusion

To enhance financial inclusion, post offices with significant presence in rural areas offer promise. But to achieve that, should India Post metamorphose into a commercial bank or explore possibilities with banks suffering from sagging assets? Internationally, there are a few countries which have tapped the postal institution for extending financial inclusion. For instance, in Brazil, financial inclusion got a boost after Brazil Post formed a partnership with financial institutions. Some countries have even offered a banking licence to their post offices (China, France, Morocco), while in some other countries banking institutions have made working arrangements to offer services through the post offices (Algeria, Italy and the UK). 

However, some of the important criticisms against making a bank out of postal institution are lack of technology, different work culture and experience, and staff constraints such as skills, training and computer literacy levels. In India, the contribution of small savings, despite concerted efforts by the Government since 1951, has been comparatively small compared to deposits with commercial banks, mainly because of the lack of ability to save and financial literacy amongst the segment of the population which banks with post offices. Converting post offices into banks would not change that situation. Incidentally, nationalisation of banks — in 1955, 1969 and 1980 — was initiated to enhance banking penetration in rural areas, but that did not meet with significant success, given the work culture and skill levels of banking staff.

Saving more

However, the need is to inculcate banking habits in the rural unbanked population. For that existing infrastructure in post offices could be usefully explored successfully in different ways. Since there are fewer rural bank branches than post offices, the costs of transacting business with banks are fairly high. Banking services available at post offices, through time-specific extension counters of major commercial banks in the local area or the presence of business correspondents of banks, could reduce such costs and increase banking penetration. To initiate banking habits with the rural population, post offices could start offering debit cards to account holders of postal bank accounts as well as providing information on those accounts through password protected internet portals. 

Post offices could also facilitate use of electronic cards, credit and debit, for postal transactions for not only convenience of the user but also to encourage the use of banking facilities. This would enhance the financial literacy and awareness of banking services for the unbanked population. Banks could make arrangements with post offices for dealing with remittances, as recommended by the Rangarajan Committee on Financial Inclusion in 2008. Similarly, banks could be invited to locate their ATM machines in the premises of the post offices. While the use of plastic currency will make transacting easier and encourage banking habits among the unbanked population, it will also monetise the economy and help bring down the demand for currency notes and scarce coins significantly. 

India Post has touched the life of every Indian. To preserve its heritage and extend its glory, post offices need not become banks, but could certainly consider a symbiotic business partnership with commercial banks to enhance financial inclusion and mobilise deposits.

The writer is RBI Chair Professor of Economics, IIM Bangalore


Kavery Banerjee appointed as Secretary, Department of Posts

The government today approved Kavery Banerjee as Secretary of Department of Posts following retirement of P Gopinath on May 31. "The Appointments Committee of the Cabinet has approved the appointment of Ms Kavery Banerjee, IPoS (Indian Postal Services) 78, as Secretary, Department of Posts, Chairperson, Postal Services Board and Director General, Postal Services," an official statement said. Banerjee was serving as Member (Technology) in Postal Services Board before being elevated to the new post. Her predecessor Gopinath, too, was elevated to the position of Secretary from Member (Technology) of PSB. Gopinath during her tenure played key role on project of Post Banks concepts floated by former telecom minister Kapil Sibal. 

Though DoP failed to get banking licence, it will have the opportunity to apply again when Reserve Bank of India again opens up application for new licences. The future of Post Banks now depends largely on view of new government if it would like Department of Posts to enter in to full time banking operations. 
India Post has already set up ATMs at few locations and about 2,800 more ATMs are expected to be in place by March 2015 as part of its core banking system project. The challenges before Banerjee includes completion of CBS project and modernising about 1.3 lakh out of 1.55 lakh post offices across country and look at revenue streams to curb loss at India Posts which was last reported around Rs 6,300 crores. Around 25,000 department of Post offices have been computerised under UPA regime.

About Appointments Committee of the Cabinet (ACC)
Appointments Committee of the Cabinet is a body whose approval is required for all senior appointments in the Government of India under the Government of India Transactions of Business Rules, 1961. These appointment include Board level appointments in Public Sector Undertakings and appointments to the posts at the level of Joint Secretary