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The UK government, through the FCDO, is committed to fostering global prosperity and economic development and aims to address extreme poverty. Harikrishnan Mangayil/Pixabay

The British High Commission in New Delhi has issued a call for bids to support the development of the UK-India Co-operation on Pensions programme for the fiscal year 2023/24.

This initiative, spearheaded by the Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO), aims to enhance knowledge-sharing and regulatory reforms in the UK and Indian pension sectors, fostering economic development in both nations.

The UK government's strategic objectives, as outlined by FCDO, include strengthening global peace, security, governance, resilience and response to crises, promoting global prosperity and economic development and tackling extreme poverty. The UK-India Co-operation on Pensions programme is a vital part of FCDO's efforts to promote global prosperity and economic development by providing support and expertise to India.

Scheduled to run from August 2023 to March 2024, this programme will primarily assist India in implementing its proposed economic and finance reforms, and climate and infrastructure development priorities, all geared towards long-term growth objectives. The primary beneficiaries will be the Pension Fund Regulatory and Development Authority (PFRDA) and the Ministry of Finance.

The UK's strategic impact areas will include private finance and business environment reforms, tax revenue mobilisation, public finance, and high-quality, low-carbon, resilient infrastructure development.

This initiative builds upon the work planned under the Technical Assistance Programme for Financial Services in India (FS), established through a Memorandum of Understanding signed between the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office (now FCDO) and the Indian Ministry of Finance in January 2019.

The FS Programme focused on enhancing pension coverage among economically vulnerable segments of society and women, strengthening regulatory capacity and developing and regulating new pension products in partnership with PFRDA.

The UK-India Co-operation on Pensions programme aims to continue this collaboration by supporting India's pension reforms and policy development. It seeks to capitalise on the expertise gained by India from the UK's experience in the pension sector.

At the 12th UK-India Economic and Financial Dialogue, the Chancellor of the Exchequer and the Hon'ble Finance Minister of India announced a new partnership between the UK and India on the insurance and pensions sectors. The collaboration includes deepening knowledge-sharing on recent and planned regulatory reforms in both countries' insurance and pension sectors.

The scope of services for the chosen supplier includes the finalisation of the programme's work plan, delivery of a Project Commencement Report, and the development of at least two policy papers covering key learnings from international markets such as the UK. These policy papers aim to support the growth of India's pensions sector and will be presented and ratified by the Ministry of Finance and/or the PFRDA.

The programme will also include a high-level one-day conference on pensions in India, with a focus on disseminating key policy recommendations, experience-sharing sessions by UK experts and discussions on opportunities for collaboration between the UK and India on pension development. The event is expected to be held in person, in either New Delhi or Mumbai.

The expected deliverables of the chosen supplier are clear, including the submission of policy papers, conference organisation, periodic progress reports, and the entire management of activities outlined in the scope of work. This effort seeks to deepen and expand the coverage of the pensions market in India, encourage collaboration between the UK and India, and identify obstacles to scaling up pensions in India while making recommendations to policymakers on how to overcome them.

The successful tenderer must have a clear understanding of Indian and international pension systems, at least 10 years of experience working with the government of India and/or financial sector regulators and a track record of delivering pension-related projects in India and the UK. The programme budget ranges from £100,000 to £110,000 and value for money is a key evaluation criterion.

The project will be delivered in Delhi and Mumbai and payments to the service provider will be based on a specific payment schedule that correlates with project milestones.

This collaboration between the UK and India represents a significant step toward strengthening their respective pension sectors and promoting economic development in both countries. As the programme unfolds, it holds the promise of making substantial contributions to the well-being and financial security of individuals in both nations.