Senior pensions to be raised to minimum 4,800 patacas in 2009

Wednesday, November 19, 2008
Issue 532, Page 5
Word count: 515
Published in: Macau Daily Times

By Poyi (Natalie) Leung

Macau permanent residents aged 65 years or above will receive a pension of at least 4,800 patacas starting next year, an increase of 2.5 times the current 1,800 patacas.

The Social Affairs Committee held its fourth meeting this year yesterday which was chaired by Secretary for Social Affairs and Culture, Chui Sai On and attended by heads of different government departments including the Health Bureau and the Social Welfare Bureau (IAS).

Director of IAS, Ip Peng Kin, told the media after the meeting that the committee came up with three proposals which were to increase the pension amount to 4,800 patacas, 5,000 patacas or 6,000 patacas, and to be paid out half the amount twice a year.

Mr Ip said the committee would choose one proposal among the three by the end of this year, and added that “more opinions inclined to the first two amounts of 4,800 patacas or 5,000 patacas”.

“We will continue to study the proposals in order to give our ultimate advice to the SAR government for adjusting the amount of the pension in 2009,” the IAS chief said.

In terms of the aspects that would be taken into consideration when selecting the final increased amount, Mr Ip said they included the objective of the pension scheme, demands from society, conditions of economic development in Macau and also the financial capability of the government.

As pensions are paid out in a form of social benefit which does not require a financial review of applicants, Mr Ip said the committee agreed that they should not create “an illusion” to society that the amount would be raised every year.

“Hence when the amount has reached a certain level we need to review the scheme and decide whether the amount should be fixed at that point,” he added.

According to the IAS chief, the committee members generally supported the increase of pension from 150 patacas a month to 400 patacas or above in the view of Macau’s social development.

“The key principle is to show society’s concerns and support to elderly people,” Mr Ip said.

“The pensions will help finance their daily costs and also allow them to live with dignity without constantly asking for money from their families. We want to provide them with a justified amount so that they can continue to participate in social activities,” he added.

At present the 1,800 pataca pension is being paid in full once a year in October.

However, following the increase in amount next year, Mr Ip said it would be “more appropriate” to give it away in two separate times a year, with half the amount each time.

He said it could be in May and October as in how the special additional pensions were paid out this year.

The SAR government started paying an annual pension of 1,200 patacas to Macau permanent residents 65 years old or above in 2005.

Due to prevalent social demands, the amount was raised to 1,500 patacas in 2006 and then to 1,800 patacas in 2007.

There are currently more than 30,000 people receiving pensions from the IAS.

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