Electronic pension payment system to be implemented in 2017

GINA, GUYANA, Wednesday, December 07, 2016

There will be full implementation and operationalisation of the Electronic Pension Payment System, for Old Age Pension (OAP), which upon completion, is expected to improve the management and administration of the system.

This was made clear when Minister of Social Protection, Volda Lawrence  took to the floor on day three of the debates on the 2017 national budget in the National Assembly, today.

Minister of Social Protection, Hon. Volda Lawrence

The Minister explained that in 2017, the Ministry will review the present Poor Law Act of 1942 to address several issues which plague this safety network; seniors who do not have birth certificates, those without Identification Cards and also those who set out to abuse the system as is the case of those who are now seeking to en-cash vouchers from as far back as January 2016.

The Ministry of Social Protection, in collaboration with the E-Government Unit and the Ministry of Public Telecommunications has commenced testing the Electronic Pension Payment System, the minister explained.

Lawrence said that the Ministry has developed and finalised Minimum Standards for Elderly residential facilities in line with international best practices and Guyana’s obligations under international treaties and agreements.

In 2017, the Ministry will establish a Senior Citizens’ Homes Oversight Committee which will provide the guidance and support to bring all Senior Citizens’ Homes in compliance with the Minimum Standard. Also an additional $500,000 is provided in the 2017 budget for one of the oldest private homes for the elderly, the Dharm Shala, said Minister Lawrence.

“I am happy to report that in just over 18 months, the OAP (Old Age Pension) reflects a 45% increase. The pension now stands at $19,000 and over 53,000 persons are expected to benefit. At the same time, the Public Assistance will increase to $7, 500 and both increases are to take effect from January 1, 2017,” Minister Lawrence said.

The removal of the requirements for the elderly to pay for drivers’ licences, travel tax and passport fee are all measures to support the elderly.

The incentive that the Opposition implemented for the elderly for them to  be exempt from the payment of electricity and water lacked transparency and did not benefit all the elderly consumers, the Minister said.

She added that there is now no disparity in the distribution of the pension and  all the elderly are entitled to the same equitable increase without exception, Minister Lawrence explained to the National Assembly.

The Minister said that other measures have been taken to ease the burden on the elderly such as improving the efficiency of the OAP payment system and the oversight of Senior Citizens’ Homes.

 

By: Gabreila Patram

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