$23b paid out to gov't pensioners last financial year
Jovan Johnson, Gleaner Writer
Approximately $23 billion was paid out to Government pensioners in the previous 2012/2013 financial year ending in March.
Leader of Government Business in the Senate, A.J. Nicholson, revealed the figure while answering questions posed by opposition member Robert Montague.
Nicholson also revealed that 34,300 former Government workers are receiving pensions from authorities including the Accountant General, parish councils and statutory bodies.
As at September 30, approximately 2,090 pension cases were being processed by the finance and planning ministry.
However, controversy developed after Montague argued that Nicholson did not provide a sufficient response to queries about the longest period a pensioner has had to wait to be paid.
Nicholson, who is also Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade Minister, responded that he nor the Ministry of Finance and Planning could not answer the question.
Montague shot back that he was shocked at Nicholson’s remark, claiming that Jamaicans have been waiting up to ten years for their pensions.
Senators K.D. Knight and Navel Clarke rose to Nicholson’s defence resulting in President Floyd Morris having to demand an end to cross-talk between the government and opposition members.
Morris, in an attempt to settle the matter, suggested that Nicholson seeks further clarification from the Finance Ministry.
However Nicholson rejected the suggestion.
Senator Montague then accepted the Senate president’s suggestion that he should write to the finance and planning ministry directly to seek further clarification.
It currently takes about four months from the time of application to the date of payment for pensioners to receive their benefits.
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