HUYE - As part of its national social protection strategy, government plans to introduce a Seniors’ grant whereby citizens above 65 years of age without pension will be paid a monthly stipend of Rwf5,200.
This was revealed yesterday by Local Government State Minister, Christine Nyatanyi.
During a meeting with district leaders in the Southern Province, Nyatanyi explained that the proposed grant will be implemented gradually over a period of 5 years beginning with people above 70 years.
She explained that the constitution mandates the government to support the elderly where only 7 percent have access to the pension fund.
“An old age grant will recognize the contribution made to the country by the elderly throughout their lives,” Nyantanyi said.
Statistics from the Ministry of Local Government indicate that 79 percent of people above 65 years in Rwanda live in poverty or are in danger of falling into poverty.
The poorest children also live in these households. The proposed grant targets 328,000 people, representing 13 percent of all households.
It is envisaged that putting cash into the hands of the elderly will be a significant boost to the economy, by stimulating consumption in local markets.
District leaders welcomed the move but questioned the 70 and above age limit, saying very few people live to attain that age in Rwanda today.
“The age limit should be brought down to around 60 years, it will be difficult to find people who are above 70 years,” said Hesron Hategekimana, Gisagara district vice Mayor in charge of Economic Affairs.
However, Nyatanyi said that the government was forced to start with this limit because of limited resources.
“The age bar can be brought down if and when funds permit,” she said.
Once implemented, the Old Age Grant will take about 0.6 percent of GDP, a figure considered very low compared to other countries like Namibia where the grant constitutes about 1.50 percent of GDP.