Thiruvananthapuram: State Finance Minister K.M. Mani, while presenting the state's budget for 2013-14, left out a paragraph from his speech that mentions raising the retirement age to 60 years for all state government employees who join service from the next fiscal.
"The retirement age of existing state government employees will not be changed, taking into consideration the demand of the youths. But all those who join service from April 1st, 2013, since they are going to be part of the national pension policy, it has been decided to increase the pension age of such employees to 60 (years). This decision is not going to affect the youth in any way, but will only be beneficial to them," says paragraph 413 of the budget speech, which Mani did not read.
Former finance minister Thomas Isaac, who first came out criticising K M Mani, said that the act was an insult to the assembly. "It is not fair on the part of the minister to omit that paragraph when he read out the speech on the floor of the assembly," said Issac of the CPI-M.
V S Sunil Kumar MLA said he would move a notice against Mani for violating the legislators’ rights. He added Mani intentionally skipped the paragraph.
Mani, however, denied the allegations. During interaction with the media after presenting the budget Mani himself pointed out that he omitted reading out the paragraph on retirement age. “It was not a deliberate attempt. The presentation was almost three-hour long. I left out the paragraph by mistake while continuing the reading sitting because of back pain,” he clarified.
"It's not necessary to read the entire speech, because the budget is placed before the house and that's enough. There is nothing wrong in it," Mani said.
Incidentally, the Oommen Chandy government only last year raised the retirement age to 56 years, after the previous Left Front government decided to allow all employees to complete the financial year and not retire at the age of 55, as was the practice previously.