What? The Government is proposing yet another significant increase in the old-age pension (OAP)? Well, blow us down! The reaction didn’t tarry in coming from newspaper/magazine editors probably earning 10, 15 or 20 times the sum proposed. They probably are well worth it, and need it to lead the life of luxury that they have become accustomed to — as are the economists they are quick to quote from.
But OAPs? No, no, no! The poor, old sods can surely manage on the princely sum of Rs 6,210 that they presently receive. So is this government not crazy to propose to increase the OAP Rs 13.500 pm… over the next 5-years?
My friend Keshraj never tires of reminding me that we have every right to criticize, but that is not enough. We must also be prepared to offer solutions. The problem with these vehement critics who have probably been to the big management schools (or have they?) is that they tend to look at only one side of the coin, because that suits their agenda to hammer the government week in and week out. If these pension pundits were endowed with a faintest iota of fair-mindedness, they would suggest to the government that it must also do the blindingly obvious thing. That it must also raise more money too!
I am not about to invent the wheel, because there is no need. Through the ID data bank, the authorities hold personal information on everyone over 18. So they can easily pull out a list and send a Card to all of those who are not making any contribution to the NPF. In order to qualify for the full OAP, they would have to contribute for 35 years. The quantum of the monthly contribution would be set with the help of experienced, independent actuaries.
This simple step would ensure that everyone without exception (sorry Messrs Marchand Ambulant/ goyave-de-Chine/gato mais seller) would be contributing to the NPF, thereby increasing the size of the cake.
(An old OAP)
* Published in print edition on 11 October 2019