Amid a public outcry against moves by the government to stop doling out Old Age Pension to overseas-based Guyanese, the Ministry of Social Protection on Wednesday insisted that it was merely sticking by the law.
Guyanese 65 years and older are eligible for Old Age Pension which is different from National Insurance Scheme (NIS) pension, retirement pension and social assistance.
Currently, Old Age Pension is GYD$18,200.
Following is the full text of the statement issued by the Ministry of Social Protection on Wednesday, July 6, 2016.
The Ministry of Social Protection wishes to clarify that Old Age Pension is different from Government Pension and National Insurance Scheme Pension.
Old Age Pension is not an entitlement from employment, as in the case of Government Pension and National Insurance Scheme Pension, but rather Old Age Pension is a monthly payment ($18,200 at present) available to eligible Guyanese aged 65 or older.
It is provided for under the Old Age Pension Act (Chapter 36:03), which clearly states that applicants must meet certain statutory conditions to qualify for Old Age Pension. These statutory conditions are:
- The person must have attained the age of sixty five years;
- The person must satisfy the appropriate authority that s/he has been a citizen of Guyana for at least ten years immediately preceding his [her] claim for a pension;
- The person must have been ordinarily resident in Guyana during the twenty years immediately preceding his [her] claim for pension.
In the event that the person is temporarily absent from Guyana, the applicant or pensioner must satisfy the Authority, usually through the provision of the person’s passport and an immigration check conducted by the Ministry, that the period of absence from Guyana has not exceeded two years during the past twenty years, according to law.
Persons receiving Old Age Pension may become ineligible if that person is a resident in a charitable institution that provides board and lodging; is in prison or has migrated. It is in this context that the Hon. Volda Lawrence Minister of Social Protection has sought to reinforce the laws, stating that persons, whether they worked in Guyana or not, who are now living overseas are ineligible for Old Age Pension in Guyana.
The current policy that both the previous and current government has followed to date dictates that persons applying for Old Age Pension must have been living in Guyana for at least two years preceding their application.
It is precisely this approach that was highlighted by the recently conducted audit as erroneous, since the law actually prescribes that the Old Age Pension applicant “must have been ordinarily resident in Guyana during the twenty years immediately preceding his [her] claim for pension”, a finding that was publicised by the local media.
The Ministry of Social Protection therefore wishes to reiterate that persons will only be eligible for Old Age Pension if they satisfy the age, citizenry and residency requirements.