India's pension regulator is looking forward to setting up a separate trust to manage pension funds of private sector employees and also to regulate all the current pension funds which do not come under any regulations.
"Separation of NPS Trust was required as there was some conflict of interest. PFRDA is the regulator and at the same time, we were also doing a lot of works which NPS Trust should be doing, so there was overlapping. So these are now removed and now, the NPS Trust will be working as an independent body... it will be under our regulation but will be independent for their daily activities of management of the funds.
"They will also start subscriber awareness in a big way. Government of India will appoint a number trustees on the board of the NPS Trust. The majority of the funds that NPS Trust manages belong to state and Central government employees," Pension Fund Regulatory and Development Authority Chairman Supratim Bandyopadhyay told IANS.
"We are looking forward to a separate trust for only private sector pension funds. There is a suggestion in the amendment that we have proposed that there can be more than one trust also. It may be so that we will have a different trust looking after the private sector funds. Today the structure is NPS Trust is looking after everything -- private and government sector both. All the funds are in one pool though there is segregation of funds from both sides," he added.
In her budget speech, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman had said that the regulating role of PFRDA requires strengthening. "Necessary amendments would be carried out in Pension Fund Regulatory Development Authority of India Act that will also facilitate separation of NPS trust for government employees from PFRDAI," she had said.
Bandyopadhyay said that there is also a proposal that the PFRDA will be regulating other pension schemes that are not being regulated by anybody right now, like approved superannuation funds which get an approval from Income Tax authorities for their tax benefits. "... But subsequently whether they exist, whether their funds are being invested properly, whether the pension payouts are being made in the right manner, nobody looks into them... PFRDA wants to regulate these funds also."
Similarly, many other pension schemes in the market currently are unregulated, he pointed out.
Bandyopadhyay said that currently LIC's pension funds are regulated by the IRDAI as it is an insurance company because the insurance companies have superannuation funds.
"There is a free flow between the superannuation funds and the NPS. If some from the superannuation fund wants to join NPS, the entire company can come out and join the NPS and it is already happening... where people are feeling from return point of view, tax benefit point of view, the NPS is scoring higher their existing superannuation funds. Superannuation funds can get 30 per cent lump sum tax relief, in the NPS, it is 60 per cent," he said.
(Anjana Das can be contacted at email@example.com)