The Premier’s reassurance | Daily News


 

The Premier’s reassurance

The assurance given to senior citizens by Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa that the special bank interest of 15% for their deposits would remain unchanged, will be welcome news to this group of citizens who had given the best years of their lives in the service of the country.

The Premier was refuting claims in certain media fuelled by the Opposition that the Special Bank Interest extended to senior citizens is to be slashed.

The Prime Minister who is also the Finance Minister categorically stated that there will be no reduction of interest for Senior Citizens’ Accounts, rejecting outright news reports to the contrary.

Senior citizens would receive an interest amounting to 15% on the deposits subject to a ceiling of Rs. 1.5 million which is a great boon to this category of citizens who are faced with many travails and tribulations in the evening of their lives after having spent long years in the Government service or in the private sector.

The public columns in the newspapers are full of their woes mainly to do with their medical bills. Their plight has today worsened with banks slashing interest on deposits (barring the 15% interest segment), taking away a huge chunk of interest earnings. True, Banks have to follow Central Bank guidelines in this respect that place a cap on interest to offset the low interest charged on borrowings. However, this has dealt a blow to senior citizens whose only means of income is the interest on their deposits. The Government should therefore think of an alternative to offset this anomaly without letting banks penalize depositors for no fault of theirs .

More often than not senior citizens are left to fend for themselves with no support from their children .The interest earning from their hard earned money is the only means of survival for them. The Coronavirus pandemic has made things worse with income avenues drying up for many.

President Gotabaya Rajapaksa has prevailed on the banking sector to be liberal with granting loans to small and medium scale businesses. In the process it must also be ensured that depositors’ interests too are protected.

Banks cutting down interest of depositors is also fraught with danger since there could well be a run on deposits with the aim of placing funds in Finance Companies for higher interest. This could also lead to instability in the banking industry which in turn would affect the economy.

It is time the authorities took a sympathetic view on the plight of the Senior Citizen depositors. Cabinet Spokesman Minister Dr. Bandula Gunawardena endorsing the Prime Minister’s sentiments said the Special Interest Scheme for Senior Citizens has been implemented to safeguard the income status of senior citizens who have dedicated their youth to the development of the country. None could agree more with the Minister. Hence, no room should be left for this category to be penalized in any manner by cutting down on the deposit interest or in any other manner such as anomalies in their pensions.

Here too a section of our senior citizens are made a suffer a grave injustice in that different yardsticks are applied in the calculation of pensions with those who retired in the distant past not being entitled to the enhanced pensions offered to recent retirees. This anomaly too should be looked into and remedial measures taken. Needless to say, pensioners form a considerable bulk among the voting population. What better time to assure those pensioners who had been left behind on the payment scale of a better deal ?

Unequal laws?

The full force of the law should be brought to bear on sports persons, politicians and celebrities who cause death and injury to other road users by reckless and careless driving of their vehicles. The latest to get involved in a road mishap is cricketer Kusal Mendis who knocked down and fatally wounded a 64- year-old cyclist in Panadura. Before him, his team mate Dimuth Karunaratne knocked down and caused damage to a trishaw. On that occasion the trishaw driver was compensated with a brand new three wheeler. Similarly it has now transpired that negotiations are on to pay a hefty compensation to the bereaved family in the latest incident. What about the law and order side of the whole affair ? Is it game for rich cricketers, politicians and celebrities to get away with blue murder (many of them hightail it after knocking down the victims) by forking out large sums while the law keeps mum. In the past too there have been cricketers, politicians and film/teledrama actors who had knocked down pedestrians and other road users sometimes fatally. Nothing has been heard of their cases thereafter. Are some people more equal before the law than others, particularly those with money, power and celebrity status ?


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