Pension pitfalls imperil Vision 2030 targets
THE EDITOR, Sir:
Vision 2030, which aims to make Jamaica the place to live, work, raise families and do business, is a lofty but elusive dream that must be a nightmare for many retirees and pensioners, including those who have lived overseas.
Many persons, having worked for decades (oftentimes giving even more than 40 years of outstanding service in the public sector), upon retirement, have had to wait for more than a year to receive their hard-earned pensions.
This has not only been a source of irritation, frustration and quite often depression for those persons affected, but also one of real demotivation for many young professionals who, witnessing the distress caused to their parents or grandparents, often cite this among the reasons for their desire to emigrate.
Frustration also exists when receiving a pension, with late or non-payment at times; and for those who have worked overseas, barriers can be unnecessarily erected by their local financial institutions, which delay their accessing pensions sent from abroad.
An 80-year-old lady who had lived overseas for decades was denied access to her pension for two consecutive quarters, by a well-known financial institution. The reason for this denial was due to the fact that there was an increase in her pension and her explanation of this being the norm annually was not accepted.
She requested and received an authentic document from overseas that indicated the pension due to her and presented this to the financial institution, which still refused to release her pension. The official explanation was the need for further clarification; given the document verified what her weekly pension was, but she was being paid quarterly!
It gets even more ridiculous. A pensioner, honoured with the Order of Distinction, was denied his pension for the first quarter of a year because of a lack of documented proof that he was still alive. Documented proof was sent in the second quarter of the year and pension payments were resumed accordingly, but not retroactively. He was duly informed that payment for the first quarter was still denied as there was no documented proof he was alive then. Wow!
These cases clearly reveal the lack of a discerning ability and discretion of many in authority. We will never achieve First-World status with Third-World thinking, and Jamaica will develop faster when those entrusted with authority use their power not to frustrate, but rather to facilitate smooth business transactions.
DAIVE R. FACEY