Business Standard

NPS added 21.5% fewer corporate subscriber­s in ’23

Saw 158,212 new subscriber­s last year compared to 201,517 during 2022

- SHIVA RAJORA New Delhi, 3 March

The National Pension System (NPS) added 21.5 per cent fewer fresh subscriber­s under the corporate segment in 2023 compared to the preceding year. Government officials and experts attribute it to the higher exemption limit of income tax of ~7 lakh announced in the FY24 Budget that no more requires employees under this income bracket to opt for NPS for tax-saving purposes.

Data collated from the Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementa­tion (MOSPI) reveals that the corporate component is voluntary in nature and saw 158,212 new subscriber­s in 2023 compared to 201,517 during 2022. This segment mainly comprises employees in the public sector, public sector banks and private limited companies, among others.

“People enrolled under the corporate component of the NPS to take tax benefits see it as a tax-saving instrument rather than a long-term pension or savings product. So, when the finance ministry raised the exemption limit in the last Union Budget, people belonging to these income slabs saw no incentive to enrol under the NPS. That is what explains this sharp decline in enrolment,” an official told Business Standard.

During Budget 2023, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman had announced changes in income tax slabs and rebate limits.

Under the new income tax regime, the exemption limit was raised to ~7 lakh from ~5 lakh, indicating that a person who earns less than ~7 lakh annually need not invest to claim exemptions. And, the entire income would be tax free irrespecti­ve of the quantum of investment made by such an individual.

Deepesh Raghaw, a Sebiregist­ered investment advisor, said the move gave more consumptio­n power to the middle-class. They could spend the entire income without bothering about investment schemes.

“Due to lack of awareness, people mainly deploy NPS to earn tax rebates available under various sections of the Income Tax Act. In India, where it is absolutely necessary for people to save and invest for their future pension needs, the diversion of people away from NPS is concerning,” he added.

Managed by the Pension Fund Regulatory and Developmen­t Authority (PFRDA), the NPS came into effect from January 2004 for central government employees, except the armed forces. It is designed on a defined contributi­on basis as both the subscriber and employer contribute equally to a person’s account.

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