Wednesday, September 7, 2011

GETTING OUR PRIORITIES RIGHT

Calls for help. Is the government listening?
Of late there has been a spate of letters in the papers lamenting the lack of financial assistance for retirees and pensioners. Marie Lee's letter highlights the many difficulties seniors face in their retirement. This is not something new, but reading some of these letters, you can feel the desperation and frustration underlining these pleas. But are the relevant authorities taking note?

Giving a 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.

2 comments:

AT said...

Indeed it is very challenging for retirees. Prices of essentials are going up. Try buying Milo, each time you purchase a package ( 1 kg) the price goes up! You are right why do we need fighter jets, goodness RM3 billion each? If any big country wants to conquer us, 100 fighter jets may not even help! The money is better use for helping the citizens.

Antares said...

Nobody gets to be a "leader" or "decision maker" unless they have an aggressive ego and delusions of grandeur about "making the world a better place." So these bigheaded fools end up misruling the world and getting their priorities completely wrong. Alpha males in pinstripe suits get a stiffy discussing billion-ringgit infrastructure projects - not how many wheelchairs old folks homes will require in the next 5 years. The solution? Kill that testosterone-driven alpha male ego before it kills us all!