Abu Dhabi: A member of the Federal National Council (FNC) on Tuesday dismissed as insufficient the government’s response to their calls to encourage men to work after pension age and allow early retirement of Emirati women.
Hamad Al Rahoumi, an FNC member from Dubai, posed a question to Obaid Humaid Al Tayer, Minister of State for Financial Affairs, on why senior citizens are discouraged from supplementing their pension with additional income. Al Rahoumi argues that the government is missing the point by setting Dh9,000 as a ceiling of combined pension income.
Under the present laws, pensioners are only allowed to supplement their pension with additional income if combined pension income does not exceed Dh9,000.
In a letter to the House, Al Tayer, also deputy head of the General Authority for Pensions and Social Security, said the authority was planning to change the laws to allow retired citizens to supplement their pensions with salaries.
Al Rahoumi, however, dismissed the response as “not enough” and demanded that Al Tayer show in person before the House for further discussion.
“The pension law is outdated and needs to be revised especially as the minimum pension income is now set at Dh10,000,” Al Rahoumi said, asking why seniors are being discouraged from taking up jobs, while statistics show more than two-thirds of them are out of work.
Al Rahoumi said the government should help older Emiratis to work, if they are able and wish to do so. “Seniors should be allowed to have substantial earnings and still receive an age pension. Preventing them from supplementing their pension not only hurts many Emiratis, but also hurdles retaining the rich expertise they earned after long service,” he said.
Al Tayer was also asked by Dr Abdullah Hamad Al Shamsi, a member from Ajman, on why the Dh10,000 minimum pension income does not cover those who retired before January 1, 2008.
“Excluding senior citizens who retired before that date caused a substantial difference between income of pensioners who used to hold the same job grade,” Al Shamsi said and added that it was particularly unfair to forefathers who served the country during the early days of the UAE Federation.
Al Shamsi also sought an update of pensioners’ data by linking the General Authority for Pensions and Social Security with the Emirates Identity Authority.
Mosabah Saeed Al Katbi, a member from Sharjah, argued that early retirement of women would help reduce unemployment, allow women to raise their own children rather than rely on maids and cut down on late marriages.
Al Katbi rejected a letter from Al Tayer as “inaccurate” and asked that he attends another session.
The House has been pressing since 2007 for allowing early retirement of Emirati women. In 2007, pension rules were changed to allow Emirati women employed by the government to work for 20 years before retirement, rather than the previous 15. However, since then, the House has been repeatedly demanding that the move be reversed.