The Pension Fund Regulatory and Development Authority (PFRDA) has responded to stakeholders’ comments on the draft proposal of the Redressal of Subscriber Grievance Regulations, 2015.
The proposed changes were open for feedback from stakeholders and the public until November 10, 2023. The draft proposal for grievance redressal was primarily focused on the following areas: 1) National Pension System (NPS) Trust (NPST) coordination at the first level of grievance. 2) Eligibility conditions of ombudsman, and 3) Timelines for resolution.
On January 5, 2024, PFRDA issued its response to the comments under four heads. Here are the details.
Role Of NPST In Grievance Redressal: PFRDA said that ‘the National Pension System Trust shall actively coordinate for the resolution of all the grievances lodged with the intermediaries or entities directly or in the Central Grievance Management System (CGMS), as well as received directly at their end.’
Stakeholders and the public, in their comments, sought more clarity about the ‘active coordination’ of the NPST and the activities to be performed by it in this regard. The comments also mentioned that ‘the grievances received directly by the entities or intermediaries are not lodged in CGMS, cannot be accessed by NPS Trust.’
In response to the comments, PFRDA said there was ‘no change in NPST’s role in the grievance redressal mechanism.’ It maintained the status quo on this point.
Also Read: PFRDA Moots Big Changes To Boost Efficiency Of NPS System, Seeks Public Feedback
Filing Of Grievance Redressal Policy (GRP): The draft proposal stated that the grievance redressal policy (GRP) should be filed at two levels: with PFRDA and NPST, and it has to be published by the intermediary under NPS or by any other pension scheme being regulated by PFRDA, on their websites.
Public feedback recommended reducing the two-level redressal policy to one level, only to be filed with one entity to avoid ambiguity. The comments suggested that the regulatory authority (PFRDA) should be that entity, as it is a policy matter.
PFRDA responded that the GRP is required to be filed with PFRDA and NPS Trust, stating that they both are integral to the redressal mechanism.
Filing Of Appeal With Ombudsman: The proposed amendment was that the complainant could file the appeal to the ombudsman if the complaint has not yet been resolved or not resolved satisfactorily by the intermediary or the NPST within 30 days of filing the complaint.
However, stakeholders and the public commented to remove the option of raising a complaint against NPST, as it is not involved in the operational aspects and the resolution of such matters.PFRDA acknowledged in response and omitted the reference to NPST in case of filing an appeal with the ombudsman.
Jurisdiction Of Ombudsman: Regarding the ombudsman’s jurisdiction, the stakeholders and public comments brought notice to the jurisdiction conflict between the ombudsman appointed by the Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority of India (Irdai) and the one under PFRDA. As insurers fall under Irdai, and thus the Irdai ombudsman, the PFRDA ombudsman may be excluded.
In response to the comment, PFRDA stressed that a grievance can be raised against an intermediary, which could be the point of presence (PoP), pension fund, central recordkeeping agency (CRA), trustee bank, annuity service provider (ASP), etc.).
PFRDA aims to establish a strong grievance redressal system for NPS subscribers where the process is transparent, and redressal is timely.