Senior citizens in Government’s safe hands | Daily News

Senior citizens in Government’s safe hands

The current Government has given a grand treat to private and public sector employees by introducing two new valuable opportunities. The Government increased the retirement age of private sector employees to the age of 60. This is a priceless gift given to private sector employees by the current Government in the midst of the COVID-19 crisis and many other economic hardships which the previous governments never had to face.

The other priceless gift was given by the Government to public sector employees. The Government offers the Agrahara Medical Insurance Scheme until the death of these employees. Retired public sector employees also receive this benefit. This is an invaluable gift given by the current Government to all present and past (retired) public sector employees. Unfortunately, rarely do the main media and social media talk about those two worthy gifts; Instead, they always talk about what was not granted.

According to Labour Minister Nimal Siripala de Silva, a private sector employee has the preferential right to obtain his EPF and ETF deposits after completing service at 55 or to serve till 60 years.

The Government’s Budget 2021 proposed to increase the retirement age to 60 for the purpose of the Employment Provident Fund and remove the disparity between men and women.

The Government has decided to extend the private sector retirement age to 60 after considering the requests made by the country’s labour union leaders over a long period of time. In implementing these decisions, trade union leaders must acknowledge that their members must be guaranteed the right to retire at 55 if they wish, and that it would be fair to provide them with their Provident Fund benefits at the time of the retirement.

It is essential to amend the relevant Acts to include the contents of the existing collective agreements if the age of retirement is extended to 60 years. It is also needed to bring the relevant bill as soon as possible and enact the relevant laws by passing the bill in Parliament, introducing the new Act and issuing the relevant gazette notification. This will provide benefits to a large number of healthy, capable and experienced private sector employees to serve in their positions until they turn 60.

The other most important factor is the continuous monitoring of the implementation of this new law once it is introduced because many employees will try to get rid of their senior employees at the age of 55 pointing out various other reasons. There are some semi-government institutions which play with laws, rules and regulations for decades. Some of them never increase the salaries of their employees and also ignore all benefits granted by the Government to the private and public sector employees from time to time.

When whatever the existing Government offers different types of benefits to the public sector, the management in power at that time in those semi-government institutions says that the institution is private and therefore no benefits can be granted. Similarly, when whatever the existing Government offers some type of benefits to private sector employees, the management in those semi-government institutions at that time says that since the institution is State-owned (public), those benefits cannot be granted to the employees. Now, this game played by various managements during the past several decades should be stopped by the current Government. The Government should make sure that all benefits granted to private and public sector employees are given to the employees in the semi-government institutions as well.

It is very admirable that the Government offered this priceless gift to all current and past (retired) public sector employees including teachers. This gift is connected to the Agrahara Medical Insurance Scheme.

The Sri Lankan Government will introduce a new Agrahara Pension scheme for all pensioners which will ensure them many benefits throughout their lifetime. The Government has introduced this new strategy to expand the Agrahara Medical Insurance benefits scheme which is already available for senior citizens with the aim of providing a more secure opportunity to the pensioners.

The Public Administration Ministry introduced the Agrahara Medical Insurance Scheme in 2006 through the National Insurance Trust Fund (NITF) during the time of the former President Mahinda Rajapaksa. The scheme was available from January 1, 2006. The main idea of introducing the Agrahara Medical Insurance Scheme is to uplift the living standards of public servants, provincial public servants and the families of all public servants.

All insurance claims have been paid swiftly without any delay to all public servants through this scheme. The scheme provides all medical payments during hospitalisation, childbirth, various operations including bypass surgeries, spectacles etc., accidents and deaths of all public sector employees. The spouses and children of married employees and the parents of unmarried employees are included in the scheme. The public sector employees receive many benefits under its silver and gold schemes. Employees who are under the gold package receive benefits worth Rs. 350,000 annually.

Offering benefits of the Agrahara Medical Insurance Scheme to all public sector employees and pensioners throughout their lifetime is priceless because the majority of retired public sector employees face the most difficult times of their lives when they are in the 70s and above. They can earn something and live independently and need the assistance of another to lead their normal lives. Until then they are all right. But after becoming feeble, they face the most challenging time of their entire life. They have to undergo very expensive surgeries at this age as well.

Unmarried aged retirees do not have anyone to look after them and if they do not have the required financial resources, they face severe difficulties. Their lives are in danger when they fall sick because they do not have the required money to obtain medical treatment and buy drugs. But now, the Agrahara Medical Insurance Scheme comes for their benefit.

We often see on the television news how children of some retirees ill-treat their aged parents and abandon them in various places such as hospitals, near the gates of various institutions etc. At least now those helpless retired parents have the Agrahara Medical Insurance Scheme to live with dignity when they fall sick and are hospitalised.

Most of the time, aged people suffer from diseases and health problems. They have all types of diseases and health issues. They call themselves ‘Full Option’ (suffering from all Non-Communicable Diseases) in a funny way in order to describe their poor health. They need the assistance of any medical insurance at this stage but no medical insurance is available for them at this age. All insurance companies offer only life insurances and they are for healthy young adults. Others have to pay a large sum of money to obtain them after going through hundreds of various medical tests in order to prove that they are healthy. This does not happen in foreign countries. All have medical insurance. Therefore, there is no way of obtaining good medical insurance for a retiree after the age of 60. This is why the Agrahara Medical Insurance Scheme has become a priceless gift to them.

But unfortunately, all news that gains publicity through the main media and social media is utter lies of the strong supporters of a political party which has merely three percent representation. Some public servants and retirees only see what which is not given but not the priceless gifts received by them from the Government.

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