Letter: We must do a Means Test to determine a liveable pension


Dear Editor,

Recently there have been discussions between the respective Unions and the Government on increased wages and salaries for public servants and for teachers.

What about our pensioners who have given yeoman service to this country and are now paid a pension of $19,000 per month? I am motivated to write on the pension being paid to citizens 65 years and older, with the view that the governmental authorities will do a meaningful review of this pension for the 2018 Budget.

Under this administration, in September 2015 it was $17,000 and in 2017 it had increased by $2,000 to $19,000. It can be argued that over the two years there was a 12 percent increase, however is this significant to the pensioners. The Government promised to create an environment which is supportive of socio-economic development with the objective of ensuring a ‘good life’ for all.

If we are striving for a ‘good life’ for all, certainly the pension being paid is insufficient and should be addressed as a major priority. This pension, like other pensions globally, should be at a minimum amount for the pensioner to live comfortably, and it is expected that this pension will be subsidized by the pensioner in the form of savings, contributions by relatives, etc in order to meet a liveable amount.

Pensions are not increased in an objective manner. Each year it is increased by an incremental percentage, and this is known in the financial literature as Incremental Budgeting. It is the view that Zero-Based Budgeting should be applied to determine a liveable pension. In so doing, it should be revaluated each time a new budget is formulated.

The way forward is to do a Means Test, whereby on a monthly basis, an estimated amount is required, for example for food, transportation, utilities, accommodation. If this is done it is obvious that $19,000 is inadequate.

When one looks at the upper levels of pensions being paid of over one million dollars per month, why pay the lowest level such a meager amount? We must move away from this incremental approach and do a Means Test to determine a liveable pension, and I can assure you that it will be more than $19,000 a month.

It would be failing on my part if I do not mention the pensionable age of 65 years to enjoy a ‘good life’.
According to the latest World Health Organisation data, Life Expectancy in Guyana is 64 years for a male and 68 years for a female, a total life expectancy of 66 years and a ranking of 130.

It is obvious that the authorities should have an early review on the life expectancy and to lower this pensionable age based on the authentic global statistics.

After all, our pensioners also deserve a ‘good life’ and time is running out.

Yours sincerely,
John M. Seeram


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