The Congress-led UDF government in Kerala on Monday favoured raising the retirement age in the state services from 56 to 60 but the proposal triggered instant protest from opposition parties and youth outfits including the Youth Congress.
While replying to the debate on Appropriation Bill in the Assembly, Finance Minister KM Mani said the state's fiscal position warranted raising the superannuation age as payment of retirement benefits and pension entailed a big commitment on the exchequer.
While the state services had about 5.3 lakh employees there were also over five lakh pensioners. Meeting the pension and retirement commitments cast a huge burden on the exchequer every year, he said.
Kerala state services had the lowest retirement in the country while it had the highest life expectancy, Mr Mani said.
The state would also have to go for contributory pension scheme soon, he said.
Mr Mani, however, said before taking a final decision, the matter would be discussed with all youth organisations.
The UDF government had earlier this year raised the pension age from 55 to 56, which sparked widespread protests from the pro-Left youth organisations.
Reacting to the government move, Leader of the Opposition VS Achuthanandan said that raising the retirement age further would amount to challenging the people and wanted the Congress party and the UDF to make clear their stand on the Finance Minister's proposal.
Meanwhile, state Youth Congress President PC Vishunath, MLA, said his organisation would in no way agree with the proposal.
He said the Youth Congress was not even ready for a discussion on the issue.