Trivandrum: At present, there are around 5.34 lakhs people serving as employees in the government sector, while the number of pensioners exceeds 5.50 lakhs. This unhealthy trend, capable of seriously marring the state's economy, was pointed out by the Finance Minister M Mani in the Assembly Session on Monday. The minister also has put forward the suggestion of increasing the retirement age from the present 56 to 60.
The suggestion was expectedly met with stiff protest from the opposition and from the State Youth Congress as well. The last time the age limit was raised from 55 to 56 in the annual budget presented by M Mani earlier this year, it had resulted in widespread sparks of violence across the state.
Kerala currently has the retirement age for its government employees fixed at 56, which is among the lowest in the country. And the state also has the longest life expectancy in the nation, with an average life span of around 75 years, which means that the government is at present burdened with paying pension to retired employees for twenty more years after their service period, putting a huge strain on the state's financial planning.
While Kerala has been experiencing a rise in the unemployment rate, the demand for skilled labor is at an all time high in the state. Also, the population of Kerala grows by a mere 0.4% a year according to 2011 census, which is expected to fall to a negative value in this decade. An ageing population that's dwindling in number does call for programs whose specificities are concerned to an age group that's no longer young, as the youth is set to soon become a minority in the state's population.
However, a decision would be made only after a meeting of the youth organisations and the organisation of State Government Employees. Meanwhile, the Youth Congress President P C Vishunath MLA, has said that the Youth Congress wasn't even prepared for a discussion on the matter.
Chief Minister Oommen Chandy has assured that no decision would be taken without taking into consideration the plight of the unemployed youths who are going to be at the receiving end of whatever decision is taken regarding the retirement age.