78% of the elderly in the country do not have the support of pension, NITI Aayog recommended this…..

New Delhi: 78% of senior citizens in the country do not have pension support. Only 18% of people above 60 years of age have health insurance. Health related expenses account for 13% of the monthly living expenses of the elderly. Citing these, NITI Aayog has said that there is a danger of the financial condition of the elderly worsening after retirement, hence the government should take steps on the front of compulsory savings scheme, tax reforms and housing for the elderly. NITI Aayog has released a report, ‘Senior Care Reforms in India – Reimagining the Senior Care Paradigm.’

It says that a national portal should be created for the elderly, through which they can access services. It said that currently 12.8% people are above 60 years of age. By the year 2031, there will be about 13.2% such people and by 2050 the figure will increase to about 19%. It is estimated that the dependency ratio will increase from 15.7% to 20.1% between 2021 and 2031, saying that this will increase the economic responsibilities of the working population.

Emphasizing a mandatory savings plan for those who can afford, the report says that ‘the scope of the social security framework in India is limited. Most of the elderly depend on the income from their savings, but fluctuations in interest rates affect their income and sometimes it becomes insufficient for their living. Therefore, there is a need for a regulatory mechanism so that a reasonable lower limit of interest rate on the deposits of the elderly can be set. The Commission has said that giving more concessions to elderly women will help in improving their financial condition. The report said, ‘The government should make necessary changes in the rules of reverse mortgage so that liquidity can be increased for the elderly.’ Under reverse mortgage, elderly people can take a loan against their property while living in it and can get a fixed monthly income.

Stating the need for tax and GST reforms so that there is no financial burden on the elderly, the Commission said that there is a need to change the tax on products related to the care of senior citizens so that they become easy to adopt and there is no financial burden on the elderly. There is a need to promote the housing sector and senior care homes that take care of the needs of the elderly. According to the Commission, 19% of the elderly in the country are either divorced or have been separated by their families. In the traditional housing system, houses are not built keeping the elderly in mind and care is also not taken to ensure that medical facilities are nearby.

Health related needs should be included. The Commission said, ‘Pension support should also be given to the elderly in the unorganized sector. In view of inflation, there is a need to change the pension amount.

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