|Calls for help. Is the government listening?|
Rm100 voucher to senior citizens to go shopping for provisions is but a publicity exercise to make the government look good. Not that they are not appreciative, but it's only a one-off gesture. There has to be a sustained program of financial aid. I have disabled friends who receive only Rm300 in monthly welfare aid. They tell me it's barely enough to cover utilities, let alone food and shelter. (Pic: The Star)
On the other hand, we read about the billions that have been siphoned off from the public coffers through corrupt practices or that have gone down the drain through poor, short-sighted investments. It is painful to read about how some ministries are squandering away taxpayers' money.
Take for example the recent announcement that the government is considering purchasing 10 Eurofighters that cost Rm3 BILLION each. What are they thinking? Why is there a need for the latest in combat aircraft? We are a small country with no known enemies. Who would want to attack us? Let's hope this preposterous idea remains nothing more than just a pipe dream of the Defense Minister.
Unless you are drawing a pension of at least Rm1500 when you retire from the civil service, your pension won't be enough to meet your living expenses, especially if you are the sole income-generator in your family. The majority of pensioners, numbering 557,033 in 2007, (probably close to 600,000 by now), are on the lower salary scales, and trying to make ends meet on monthly pensions of less than RM1000. Bear in mind the poverty level is RM720.
The worst hit are retirees from the lower and middle income group who are either self-employed or have worked for the private sector. Their EPF savings alone are not enough to meet their financial commitments as well as cover daily expenses for the next 20 years assuming they live to 75.
Those in the 60s age group are caught in the middle between having to support their children and taking care of their elderly parents, with hefty tuition fees on one hand, and high healthcare expenses on the other. There's also their own insurance premiums and housing loans to pay as well. That's enough to bring on a heart attack!
This group of retirees are not eligible for government aid. They have difficulty finding re-employment. Most companies still practise age discrimination when hiring staff. Going into business isn't that simple when you lack capital and the banks won't give you a loan. They consider you a high risk, again because of your age.
With the cost of living escalating, surviving the "golden years" may require us to look outside the box for that elusive pot of gold.