A new research study has revealed the deteriorating social welfare of retired public servants may be a major cause of concern as the monthly pension they receive may not correlate to the current cost of living.
The findings were released yesterday after a nationwide study by the national association of pensioners (ARR), which brings together over 1,300 retirees. The findings showed that the majority of former civil servants struggle to make ends meet.
The research was conducted by Prof. Francois Masabo from the Centre for Conflict Management at the National University of Rwanda (NUR).
According to Prof. Masabo, the majority of the retired civil servants cannot afford the current cost of living due to the increased commodity prices as well as required medical care noting that they are at the most delicate age.
“What is clear is that over 30 percent of these people are given a monthly pension that is less than Rwf 30,000, some getting even less than Rwf 10,000 because of the pension laws in the country.
“While some 15 percent earn more depending on the salaries they used to earn, it should be noted that even the 60 percent receive pension that is not enough to sustain them. Only 35 percent of the pensioners can afford three meals a day while the rest settle for two or one,” Masabo said.
He noted that the research carried out in all the four provinces of the country shows a general fear among people approaching retirement age that they may not afford the cost of living for themselves and their families.
“It is only natural that some civil servants retire when they don’t have enough savings to take them through retirement. Some fear that they will lose their dignity and place in society and sometimes others descend into mental problems and old age sicknesses.
“Basically, what they want is for the government to revise pension laws so that they can be accorded pensions that are equivalent to the high cost of living,” Masabo added.
The president ARR, Andre Gisagara said that the association whose members were mainly residents of Kigali, commissioned the countrywide research to compare the social welfare of pensioners in urban and rural areas.
“The cost of living has gone up tremendously and the value of the franc has deteriorated over the years, yet nothing much has changed in the pension laws. There are some people who earned good salaries in the past but compared to today, the salaries are nothing,” he noted.
He called upon the government to address the generation gap.
“While some people retired after serving in well paying jobs recently, there are those who retired, say 20 years ago, who are not favoured by the current pension law,” Gisagara said.
However, according to Oswald Munyandekwe, the Director of Pensions at Rwanda Social Security Board (RSSB), the research which only interviewed 189 people, could have not necessarily represented the views of the over 12,000 retired persons in the country.
He however admitted that the board and the government are aware of the situation of pensioners and the rising cost of living, adding that as part of the reforms, RSSB is studying various strategies to support retired persons.
“It is part of the reforms going on at RSSB, we are aware of the problem but most of these things cannot be changed overnight because they are set by laws. The complaints are understandable.
“The government, however, has plans to intervene to ensure that retired persons are accorded the right treatment as they advance in age. Among these, we have the old age grant as well as ensuring that retired persons have medical insurance (RAMA),” Munyandekwe said.