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CALL TO EXTEND MONTHLY ALLOWANCE TO ALL RETIREES

LegCo member YB Awg Hj Jumat bin Akim, yesterday called for the allocation of living support allowance to retirees who do not receive any pension.

He said that pensioners who receive a monthly pension of B$4,000 also get a living support allowance (Elaun Sara Hidup) of $20 per month, whereas those who receive a monthly pension of between $1,000 and $2,000 also get a $120 monthly living allowance.

"Can the Ministry of Finance consider allocating a monthly living support allowance similar to those retirees so that all parties benefit from it and help reduce any financial burden?" he asked.

In his response, YB Pehin Orang Kaya Laila Setia Dato Seri Setia Awg Hj Abdul Rahman bin Hj Ibrahim, the Minister of Finance II at the Prime Minister's Office, said the establishment of the Supplemental Contributory Pension (SCP) Scheme which took effect on January 1, 2010 has proved to help ease the financial burden faced by retirees.

He said that the additional scheme complements the existing Tabung Amanah Pekerja (TAP) Scheme and similar to the TAP Scheme, it is compulsory for all employees in the public and private sectors to contribute to the SCP.

He said the scheme aims to ensure that the Citizens and Permanent Residents of Brunei Darussalam who have fulfilled all the basic requirements will receive a minimum monthly income of $400, aside from receiving the Old Age Pension of $250 upon reaching the age of 60.

On top of that, a 'catch-up payment" was also introduced as a backdated contribution payment made solely by His Majesty's Government to TAP members on December 31, 2009 and those who have not reached the age of 55 on that date. The catch-up amount which is paid to SCP accounts on January 1, 2010 is $30 per month from the date they became TAP member or on attaining the age of 25, whichever is the later.

The objective of the catch-up incentive is to ensure that all participants have sufficient savings before they reach the mandatory retirement age to enable them to enjoy the benefits of the SCP scheme.

Another issue raised during yesterday's meeting was the Private-Public Partnership or PPP.

YB Awg Hj Zulkipli bin Hj Abd Hamid asked about the progress of implementing projects using the PPP concept.

In response, YB Pehin Dato Seri Setia Awg Hj Abdul Rahman reassured the LegCo members that the partnership can provide a better platform to further develop the two sectors.

He said for the successful implementation of the partnership, those involved must have the know-how, finances, political commitment and transparency in tender procurement.

With the private sector maintaining the infrastructure, the burden on the government will be reduced, bearing in mind that before embarking on the concept, both parties must identify their capabilities.

Additionally, the partnership can promote business opportunities in the private sector and attract foreign investment, which can create more employment in the Sultanate.

He said that the concept of PPP has been adopted by countries in the Asean region and in Brunei itself, while seminars and workshops on PPP had been carried out.

- Courtesy of Borneo Bulletin

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