‘We’ve created a new poor’
Scott-Mottley wants improved pension for civil servants
Judana Murphy/Gleaner Writer
DONNA SCOTT-Mottley is urging the government to use a pension formula that allows retired civil servants to preserve their dignity.
“Generally, with pensions, we have created a new poor. There are so many of those persons who have contributed to building Jamaica, who now cannot even pay their light bill. When they were actively engaged, they bought homes in places like Hope Pastures, Trafalgar Park and Mona, but they can’t afford to sell it because they can’t afford to buy an apartment because it is so expensive. But just to maintain it, their entire pension could not pay their gardener. There are people who get like $30,000 per month,” the opposition senator told The Gleaner yesterday.
Her comments follow the publication of an article in The Gleaner on Monday, in which retired judges complained that they can hardly make ends meet from their pensions.
The retirees said the government has refused to honour recommendations over the years to increase the pittance that they receive as pension.
The Independent Commission which reviews judges’ salaries has recommended that in accordance with the Judiciary Act, judges’ pension should be indexed to the current salary of judges.
One of the retired judges referred to a case in which a chief justice retired in 1984, getting a pension of $40,000 per month and, when he died in 2009, the pension was the same.
“The government turned that eminent jurist into a virtual pauper,” the retired judge disclosed.
Scott-Mottley said that sometimes when she drives past the homes of retired civil servants and it is in darkness, she believes it is because they cannot afford to pay their electricity bill.
“I think that’s a disgrace and I think they have to make sure that they make some kind of allowances where people can maintain their dignity in retirement. There must be a formula that they can use. With inflation, it has completely eroded their pensions. They can’t even buy medicine and I’m not exaggerating,” the opposition senator said.
The retired judges had also lamented that sitting judges are now entitled to free medical care from the University Hospital of the West Indies, but the benefit ceases on retirement.
Retired judges are only able to use the civil service health plan.
“The erosion in the value of the money has created a new class of poor people and I think you should be able to maintain a certain standard of life, and more importantly, preserve your dignity after you have served so long and given so much,” said Scott-Mottley, who is also an attorney.