Democrats urges to raise age pensions

Monday, March 8, 2010
Issue 957, Page 2
Word count: 457
Published in: Macau Daily Times

By Poyi (Natalie) Leung

The New Macau Association handed in a petition to the government headquarters, calling for an increase in the amount of age pensions and the implementation of the non-mandatory central provident fund.

Addressed to Chief Executive Fernando Chui Sai On and Secretary for Economy and Finance, Francis Tam Pak Yuen, the petition pointed out that the SAR government presented the double-tier social security system as part of the “Reform Plan for the Social Security and Old Age Security Systems” in November 2008, but “the implementation of the plan has been largely lagging behind expectations”.

Eligible Macau residents’ personal accounts for the central saving system, which forms the first tier of the new social security system, got set up in the first quarter of this year, the New Macau Association said, adding each of those accounts has only 10,000 patacas of start-up capital by far.

In addition, the democrats said government officials had expressed that the government might not necessarily introduce the reform proposal that residents at different age levels would in every year receive different shares of government funding.

As for the second tier concerning the non-mandatory central provident fund, no final plan has been confirmed to date, the association added.

Therefore, the democrats believed that the age pensions allocated by the Social Security Fund (FSS) are the only old age protection for citizens at this stage in Macau.

A qualified elderly citizen receives 1,700 patacas per month.

“The social security system is a public good that benefits social stability and sustainable development of the economy,” the association said in the petition.

“Only when the government shoulders its responsibilities and establishes public finance with social system as the central task, it can respond to public demands, realise civilians’ social rights and also build a truly harmonious society,” it added.

However, following the economic growth and inflation in Macau, the democrats reminded the government that 1,700 patacas of age pensions are no longer sufficient to support the costs of living.

In order to ensure beneficiaries’ basic needs of life, the association urged for a 55 percent increase in age pensions to 2,640 patacas a month in order to reach the minimum subsistence index in Macau.

The petition also said that the government needs to inject part of the accumulated public income into the Social Security Fund so as to assure its ability to pay.

Besides, the democrats suggested rising employers’ and employees’ contributions to FSS gradually and reserving a higher amount in the government’s gaming income to go to the FSS.

The non-mandatory central provident fund also has to be launched as soon as possible, the democrats said, so that a comprehensive review can be conducted three years after implementation to look into a mandatory central provident fund system.

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