Pensioners have been directed by the government to get their biometric verification done through the bank accounts they are maintaining or submit life certificates in March. It will better facilitate them and identify ghosts in order to control leakages in the ever-growing pension expenditure.
According to the State Bank of Pakistan, “Pensioner will be required to undergo biometric verification from any branch of a bank maintaining his or her pension account, every year in March and September.”
The State Bank further said in an issued notification on Monday, “If the pensioners are unable to undergo biometric verification due to incapacitation by bodily illness, infirmity, or if his/ her fingerprints do not exist due to old age or a genetic condition, he/she will provide a life certificate as per the SOPs (standard operating procedures.”
“If a pensioner fails to submit a life certificate or fails to undergo biometric verification during March and September or a pensioner does not draw a pension for consecutive six months, the account shall become dormant.”
Moreover, the central bank has issued the new SOPs in the light of the amendments announced in SOPs for direct credit system (DCS) by the government on January 6 “in order to bring transparency and ease in the pension payment process…with immediate effect”.
The government introduced this new system to curb ghost pensioners, it will also reduce the increasing burden on the budget. The overall pension spending as a share of tax revenue has reached 18.7 percent as of FY20, almost double the level a decade earlier.
It was noted that the total number of pension recipients is estimated at over 2.5 million in a population of 208 million in Pakistan. They were estimated to have been paid close to Rs 1 trillion in the previous fiscal year.
However, before the launch of this system, pensioners had to produce a life certificate twice a year in the bank where he or she used to receive pension. The life certificates were endorsed by a gazetted officer.