Of course, living in a dignified manner nowadays is only possible if someone has sufficient finances or some money to meet his/her routine requirements. It is a common principle that at the verge of retirement or post retirement the veterans and pensioners normally encounter lot of problems since liabilities increase and facilities decrease.
However, in this regard the government of Sri Lanka has taken many steps to protect pensioners to ensure social security and welfare and their successors by way of making policies on the pension of public officers and direct them merging with private sector and applying modern technology in more efficient and productive manner
Sri Lanka is among the countries with a high ageing population. Presently over 10 percent is senior citizens (over 60 years) of the total population. Demography specialists have analyzed that these percentages will increase to 25 percent by 2025. It will be a huge challenge for senior citizens, children, the Government and society. When we consider the above situation, we need to have a strong social security benefit program to help our senior citizens.
The Director General of the Pensions Department, Mr. Sunil Hettiarachichi while expressing his views on this regard told www.news.lk that the Pensions Department has launched a smart pension scheme for retired senior citizens to empower them economically with the help of information technology while offering legal benefits to pensioners of public services and their beneficiaries, ensuring satisfaction of both recipients as well as service providers at an excellent level inter-twining public sector with private sector through applications of modern technology and sustainable management techniques.
He pointed out that all Government Servants are covered by the Government Pensions Scheme and other security benefits. At the same time employees of co-operative, statutory boards and other formal sector institutions receive some security benefits (EPF, ETF).
The majority of the population employed in Sri Lanka are self employed and they contribute a lot to the national economy. The Government is concerned over these sectors and has taken action to provide pension and social security benefits.
The Government pays Rs 10 billion for approximately 580,000 retired senior citizens every month and retirees increase by two thousand every month the Director General said.
"Our aim is to relieve pensioners of the hassle of collecting their pensions and making it easy for them by providing them their money to their homes which makes it easy, without having to go to banks to collect their pensions", he said.
Meanwhile, the Pensions Department has set up a website which has details of retired citizens' experience of services and talent so that their services can be made use of for human resources. It includes photographs as well.
The Director General said a number of local private sector and international companies have requested for details of human resource personnel, who have retired from the government service.
"Unfortunately, at the moment we are not ready to provide details of experience and ability of our retired citizens but we have decided to collect these details from their work places as soon as possible. We can then speed up setting up the website which will then provide many vacancies from local and international companies for pensioners to earn extra money", he said.
"Though retirement is at the age of 60, our citizens have the capacity to provide excellent services and share their experience up to 80 years," he said.
"We have taken steps to avoid delay," he said. "We have launched a special digital identity card which contains the details of the pensioners and this is to be implemented as soon as possible," he said.
Nearly 6,800 Sri Lankan''s living abroad get their pensions via bank accounts or through Sri Lankan Embassies. He pointed out that nearly 200 pensioners have transferred their pensions for social service projects such as to Elders Home, Orphanages and the Cancer Hospitals.
He recalled a recent incident where a pensioner above the age of 65 had requested to stop his pension because he has started a small business and the income was sufficient for him and his wife.
Hettiarachchi while requesting the public not to hesitate to lodge a complaint with regard to the Pensions Department at the complaint box in www.pension.gov.lk or to the hot line 1979 assured immediate action on any complaint made.
By: Sureshika Thilakarathna