Bangladesh is introducing universal pension to expand economic protection for the citizens, although the option is now voluntary, as parliament passed the bill Tuesday to this effect.
Under provision of the much-hyped Universal Pension Management Bill 2023, National Pension Authority will be constituted. The Authority consists of four members and one executive chairman.
Citizens aged between 18 and 50 will be eligible for the contributory pension system.
But a person aged above 50 years will also be eligible for the facility provided that they contribute to the pension fund for at least 10 years. After death of the clients, the nominee will get certain defined benefits.
Finance Minister AHM Mustafa Kamal moved the bill which was unanimously passed by voice vote. Jatiya Sangsad Speaker Dr Shirin Sharmin Chaudhury was in the chair.
However, opposition lawmakers Fakhrul Imam of Mymensingh-8, Mujibul Huque of Kishoreganj-4, Rawshan Ara Mannan of women seat-47, Shamim Haider Patwary of Gaibandha-1, Pir Fazlur Rahman of Sunamganj-4, Kazi Firoz Rashid of Dhaka-6, Gano Forum lawmaker Mokabbir Khan of Sylhet-1 and independent Rezaul Karim Bablu of Bogura-7 opposed the bill and asked for further eliciting public opinion on the pension law.
The lawmakers argued that how much money will be contributed by government is not defined.
A 15-member Board of Directors or Governing Body will be in place to dictate authority. The finance minister will be chairman of the Board. Executive chairman of the Authority will act as member-secretary of the Board.
The organogram also incorporates, among others, the Bangladesh Bank governor, the finance secretary, the National Board of Revenue chairman, secretary of the Financial Institutions Division, and the Bangladesh Employers' Federation president.
The governing body will hold at least three meetings a year.
The pension fund will be formed with the subscriptions of both registered clients and institutions. The government will provide grants for the poor and insolvent citizens. The fund will grow with the yearly profits from the investment of the money. The fund will draw yearly inflow from the clients as well.
Non-resident Bangladeshis will also be eligible for registering into the pension system.
The employees who are now working under a company may shift the account to other company when they join another organisation. They will get the facility to transfer the account. That is to say, they need not open new accounts.
The Authority will fix the minimum premium rate for the clients.
Clients under the system at the age of 60 will get Tk 34,000 monthly, after monthly deposit of Tk 500 from the age between 18 and 50. They will get Tk 64,000 each month when they will pay premiums at the rate of Tk 1000.
Placing the bill, the finance minister said the bill has been elaborately discussed at the parliamentary standing committee and then the minister rejected the proposal of seeking public review.
The Finance Division prepared the draft of the bill, which seeks to provide "financial security to the growing elderly population in case of unemployment, disease, paralysis or penury".
The inclusion in this pension scheme will be voluntary unless the government issues a gazette for making it compulsory.
If an elderly person dies before the age of 75, the nominee will get the pension for the remaining period.
Finance Minister AHM Mustafa Kamal had placed the bill in the House in August last. In its budget speech of this fiscal year the minister said universal pension scheme for citizens aged 61 and above will be introduced from fiscal 2022-23.
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