September 30, 2003

Pension Hike Ruled Out

The Government has ruled out increasing pensions for the elderly soon. At the first ever national consultative conference for the elderly, Health and Social Services Minister Dr Libertina Amathila said that while it was Government's intention to continue increasing grants for pensioners this could only be considered when the country was financially better off.

About 108.423 pensioners are currently registered to receive grants - just more than 80 per cent of the total eligible population, pensions were last increased in February 2002, from N$200 to N$250 per month. Due to lack of financial resources Amathila is instead proposing that social pensions be supplemented with food rations in times of drought.

Regina Kondombolo, who serves on the National Council for Older Persons in Namibia, told The Namibian that the elderly struggle to get by on their meagre monthly grants. Many of them, she says, are unable to meet payments for their houses in which some have lived for over 30 years, while keeping up with municipal services bills was impossible.

A national survey on the status of living conditions of the elderly is expected to start next month, while a bill on the rights and care of older people is also in the offing - in the hope of improving the plight of the aged. (The Namibian, Windhoek)

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