Universal Pension Scheme: A great initiative
In Bangladesh, the government has recently released a draft law to introduce universal pension benefits. According to the provisions of Article 15 (d) of the constitution of the People's Republic of Bangladesh, citizens have the right to receive government assistance in case of disability, unemployment, disease,old age or similar condition.
Due to the increase in the average life expectancy of the people of the country, it is necessary to bring the growing elderly population under a sustainable and well-organized social security zone as dependence will increase in the future due to declining working population.
This law is called the National Pension Authority Act, 2022. Individual pension account means the account of a contributor operating under a contract subject to the terms of universal pension management. A distressed contributor is a contributor to a pension scheme who has lost the ability to contribute due to physical or mental disability.
The authority shall perform the following functions by exercising all necessary powers in pursuance of the provisions of this Act, namely:
- Introduction, management and development of universal pension system; Protection of the interests of its contributors under the universal pension system; Adoption of universal pension scheme, eligibility for access to the scheme, setting of conditions, approval, management of the scheme, supervision and investment management of accumulated deposits of pension fund.
Ensuring protection of money deposited by contributors in the pension scheme; Formulation of necessary regulations with the approval of the Government to ensure redressal of grievances of the contributors; To collect information or conduct research activities for the purpose of universal pension management, implementation or any research in this regard by the authority itself or any other office or institution or person; Take steps to encourage the public to participate in the pension scheme by providing a comprehensive understanding of the aims and objectives of universal pension, retirement and security.
To provide necessary education and training to enhance the skills of the employees of the institutions involved in the universal pension scheme; Determination of fees or other charges in the relevant cases; Publication of books of accounts and other documentary documents at the designated place and time; And to collect information on the settlement of any grievances or disputes or irregularities in the matter of public pensions or pension funds or any related matter.
The Authority shall have a fund called the National Pension Authority Fund.
The Government shall, by notification in the Official Gazette, immediately introduce universal pension management with the following characteristics or conditions or methods, namely: -
(a) All bangladeshi citizens aged 18 to 50 years can participate under universal pension management based on national identitiy card; (b) Bangladeshi workers working abroad may be included in this program; (c) Notwithstanding anything contained in any other law, the employees working in government and semi-government or autonomous organizations shall be excluded from the scope of universal pension system till gazette is issued by the Government.
(d) inclusion in the universal pension system shall be voluntary until a notification is made compulsory by the government in the official gazette; (e) after inclusion in the universal pension management, a contributor will be eligible to receive a monthly pension subject to a continuous subscription of at least 10 years and the pension will be paid against the deposit along with the profit accumulated in the pension fund on completion of 60 years of age; (f) There shall be a separate pension account for each contributor, which shall be governed by the rules framed under this act.
(g) Even if the employed contributors change jobs, the previous account will be transferred to the new workplace and there will be no need to open a new account; (h) The minimum monthly subscription rate shall be fixed by the authority. Anyone can able to make contributions on a monthly and quarterly basis and have the opportunity to make deposits in advance and in installments; (i) In case of delay in payment of monthly subscription, the pension account can be maintained by paying the arrears along with the late fee and the said late fee will be credited to the contributor himself.
(j) Pensioners will enjoy pension benefits till death; (k) if the nominee of the pensioner dies before reaching the age of 75 years while in pension, the nominee shall be entitled to a monthly pension for the remainder of the term; (l) If the contributor dies before the payment of at least 10 years, the money deposited will be returned to his nominee along with the profit.
(m) If at any stage a one-time withdrawal of money deposited in the pension fund is required, a maximum of 50 per cent of the deposit may be withdrawn at the request of the contributor, which must be repaid along with the prescribed fee. (n) The contribution for pension shall be treated as as an investment and the money received for monthly pension shall be exempt from income tax.
(o) Government or semi-government or autonomous or non-government organizations may participate in the universal pension system. In this case, the contribution of the employees and the organization will be determined by the National Pension Authority; And (p) subject to the issuance of notification from time to time by the Government, in case of citizens below low income or distressed contributors, a portion of the monthly contribution to the pension fund may be provided by the Government as a grant.
The Universal Pension Fund will carry out other related activities including deposit of contributors, maintenance of deposit accounts, and fair and safe investment of accumulated money and payment of pensions. One or more Scheduled Banks as prescribed by the rules shall act as bankers of the National Pension Fund.
If the contributor reaches the retirement age, the authority will provide annuity services in the manner prescribed by the rules under this act. The authority will ensure that the monthly pension reaches the pensioner on time in the process of electronic fund transfer. To this end, a centralized and automated pension distribution infrastructure will be set up.
The writer is a columnist &
asst officer, Career & Professional Development Services Department, Southeast University