AGD pension payments to be made by direct deposit come September 1, some stakeholders concerned
Jerome Reynolds, Assistant Editor - Online
Founder and Chief Executive Officer of the Caribbean Community of Retired Persons Jean Lowrie Chin says her organisation believes that the Government should continue to allow its pensioners to receive payments via cheque.
Lowrie Chin says the organisation believes that government pensioners should be given options in how they receive their money.
The Accountant General's Department has advised that effective September one pensioners will be paid via direct deposit to their bank accounts, discontinuing cheque payments.
The department said that notification letters and bank account information forms have been dispatched to pensioners who currently receive payments by cheques.
It said pensioners must submit completed forms by September 17, 2018, to ensure that there is no disruption in pension payments.
“While this [electronic pension payments] may be convenient for those pensioners who have bank accounts, we believe that there may be some who do not. We suggest that pensioners be given an option of collecting their pensions as they currently do ” Lowrie Chin told The Gleaner.
While noting that her organisation does not object to electronic pension payments, she said that it acknowledges that there are concerns with this being the sole medium for transfers and that this could put some pensioners at a disadvantage.
That's why she said the organisation is urging the government to offer payment options to pensioners.
"The Ministry [of Labour and Social Security] could work with their agency the National Council for Senior Citizens and us at CCRP to encourage retirees to open bank accounts while asking the Jamaica Bankers Association to upgrade their seniors-friendly practices".
Reacting, Opposition Spokesman on Labour and Social Security Horace Dalley told The Gleaner that while he supports the modernisation of pension payments he believes that it should be phased in.
Dalley noted that the move has been in the works by previous governments, pointing out that direct bank transfer is already in place.
He argued that the full system should be implemented over time.
“It can't be a sudden cut off because a lot of old pensioner don't have bank accounts and some are still unable to get any because they are incapacitated for example and so on, and therefore it can't be a sudden cut-off.
“Not everybody utilises a bank, there are some old people who don't use the bank, they use the credit union or they keep their money … so I'm saying it's a good idea but it cannot be a sudden cut-off, it has to be a continuous phased process ... you cannot give an ultimatum,” Dalley charged.
Continuing, “Some of them just use the money for daily living, weekly living, monthly living. It is not like they have a lot of money that they can put in the bank for the bank to take out charges” he added.
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