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Former President David Granger has called for a serious re-set of the National Policy on Aging to help the country’s older persons to bear the brunt of the rising cost of living, their own reduction in personal income and the disruptive effects of the pandemic.
Appearing on his weekly programme – the Public Interest – Mr. Granger said that older persons face everyday difficulties which can be overcome with official intervention and genuine consideration and to alleviate the plight of the vulnerable poor. He pointed out that the number of older persons – those over the age of 60 years – increased from 46, 839 in 2002 to 85,300 in 2020 and is rising. These changing circumstances necessitated long-term planning rather than stopgap remedies.
“Older persons who were not registered with the NIS, or do not qualify for a pension, rely only on their State (old-age) pension and personal savings. Self-employed persons in the informal economy or who never contributed to a corporate pension scheme may receive only a State pension. Women, who may have worked either at home or in the informal economy, are most likely to be excluded from pension schemes,” the former President lamented.
He highlighted the fact that, despite the inflow of petroleum revenue, the State old age-pension remains much lower than that in Barbados and Trinidad. The recent payment of increases to cane harvesters, farmers, fisherfolk and public sector employees failed to consider the predicament of the country’s most vulnerable citizens – older persons.
Older persons should be treated with due respect for their service and experience and deserve dignity rather than charity and pity. They ought to be entitled to adequate social security benefits and guaranteed access to quality public health care. Older persons deserve a ‘livable pension’ and a relaxed, restful retirement,” the former President noted.