The National Toshaos Council (NTC) Meeting 2016, highlighted issues surrounding old age pension in the hinterland, and these were addressed by Minister of Social Protection, Volda Lawrence and team.
At the meeting at the Arthur Chung Convention Centre (ACCC), on Wednesday, Indigenous leaders were able to raise concerns pertaining to difficulties experienced by the elderly in uplifting their Old Age Pension.
Minister of Social Protection, Volda Lawrence addressing the gathering at the National Toshaos Council Meeting 2016
Minister Lawrence addressed these concerns by pointing out that the Ministry is currently working with various companies, both local and international, to address the issue of effective and timely payments.
The Minister said that it has been brought to her attention that many times pensioners have to travel long distances to uplift their money, and it is a huge disappointment when they are told that the money at the post office has “just finished.” The Minister added that she has engaged the Minister of Public Telecommunications, Cathy Hughes and efforts are being made to address this situation.
Further, the Minister noted that while there may be one post office serving several communities; it is not enough because some elderly people have to travel from village to village. To address this situation, Minister Lawrence explained that the Ministry will carry out a review to determine which post offices can be re-opened or where new ones can be established.
A section of the participants at the National Toshaos Council Meeting 2016
Participants at the NTC Meeting raised the need for a standard form of identification. In the various communities, pensioners use their Passports and old Identification Cards (ID) to try to uplift their pensions. One toshao stated that the argument given for not obtaining the last issued identification cards was “we are old and will die soon…”
One acceptable form of ID
Ricardo Banwarie, Assistant Chief Probation and Social Services Officer responded to this concern by stating that the Ministry has only one acceptable form of identification, which is the last issued ID card, and only this document will be accepted.
A representative of Bumbury, Region One raised concerns about residents having to wait for long hours to uplift their pensions.
Minister Lawrence noted that efforts are being made, not only to improve the conditions of this facility, but to also create a building, where pensioners from far flung areas can overnight.