As of September 1, 2010, the elderly of this country will receive an old age pension of $3,000 and those who fall in the upper limit category will receive up to $4,000, Social Development Minister Dr Glenn Ramadharsingh said yesterday.
Ramadharsingh piloted the amendment to the Senior Citizens' Grant Legislation in Parliament which will ensure that the "grant" aspect is removed.
"As part of an advanced payment structure that benefits all, Cabinet agreed to the introduction of a new payment structure that will ensure that no person will receive an income that is less than $3,000 per month, that is, their income and the quantum of the senior citizens grant will not be less than $3,000 at the lowest end and up to $4,000 at the upper limit," he said.
"This new payment structure has effectively resulted in an increase of the maximum pension allowable to $3,000 per month with effect from September 1, 2010. Translated, this policy decision will ensure that no senior citizen, 65 years and over in this country, would be required to exist on an income that is lower than $3,000," he added.
He said the Ministry of the People and Social Development has embarked on a comprehensive review of the policy regarding the senior citizens' pensions and "sweeping changes will be proposed to this honourable House in the shortest possible time frame so as to ensure that the senior citizens' pension is more responsive to the growing needs of older persons".
"We have removed the grant and our older persons are now guaranteed a monthly pension to which they are entitled," he said.
"Today we legislate to bring comfort and serenity to our elders ... the People's Partnership is committed to treating our elders as heroes and flagbearers of our great developing nation state of Trinidad and Tobago. We do not wish them to be the poor and suffering lot of society, begging at the mercy of the Government for a gift it can take back at their whim and fancy," said Ramadharsingh.
He added that history will record that it was one of the first major decisions of the People's Partnership Government for all time and it will be said that in less than 30 days Cabinet agreed to keep its promise and amended the Act to the benefit of the elderly.