Source: Mumbai Mirror
To encourage people to care for their elderly and ailing parents, the Maharashtragovernment is preparing a tax concession proposal, which will soon be sent to the Centre. Confirming the development, state financeminister Sudhir Mungantiwar said, “With the recent spate of crimes against senior citizens, we are concerned about their safety and want young people to think about a rolereversal they will face as older parents themselves.”
The move was prompted by city-based senior citizens’ groups that have been demanding incentives that encourage people to look after their elderly parents. Vijay Aundhe, secretary of the Federation of Senior Citizens Organisations of Maharashtra, said, “We had suggested financial incentives, as many a time people refuse medical care for ailing parents on the pretext of lack of money. If the incentives become law then paucity of funds cannot be an excuse,” Aundhe said. Dr SP Kinjawadekar, president of the All India Senior Citizens’ Confederation, shared similar view. “This is a good decision and we welcome it,” he said, adding that some reason is better than none.
Elaborating on the proposal, a senior official from the finance department said that the government will also define care giving criteria. “There could be a provision that parents could file an affidavit about being happy with their children.
Caregivers, on their part, can show in their tax returns that they have transferred certain amount of money to their parents’ accounts or spent on their health care. We will seek suggestions from senior citizens organisations before finalising the draft,” the official said. At present, people can claim medical benefits if their parents are also included in the health insurance policy. Welcoming the move, Prakash Borgaonkar, director of Help Age India, who was also in the committee that drafted the senior citizen policy in 2013, said that a few provisions are vague.
“The proposal is good in intent. However, how will the government confirm that people are really looking after their parents? It will need to be defined. Also, there has to be a thoughtful implementation,” he said.
Borgaonkar also pointed out that Assam is the only state where 10 per cent salary of government employees is paid to the parents if they are not being looked after. “Maharashtra can take such firm steps, as the decisions related to senior citizens’ welfare are non-budgetary,” he added.