Guyana: Minister Lawrence -Pensioners must be living in Guyana

Guyana: Minister Lawrence -Pensioners must be living in Guyana

Min. Volda Lawrence

Min. Volda Lawrence

The Ministry of Social Protection will be putting measures in place to ensure Guyanese who live in other countries do not access a Guyanese pension. This information was related to the Government Information Agency (GINA) in a recent interview with Minister of Social Protection, Volda Lawrence.

Minister Lawrence described it as ‘double dipping’ when persons not living in Guyana, access pension from both the Guyanese government and the country in which they live.  

“We will be putting an end to persons who are ‘double dipping’…we have persons who believe that it is their right to live in a foreign country and collect their pensions here…we are saying no, it is not going to happen,” Minister Lawrence said.

Persons desirous of accessing old age pension will have to be living in Guyana for a minimum of two years. She added that last year, this issue was brought to the attention of the staff of the ministry who were advised they will be held responsible and surcharged where books are issued with them knowing the persons do not live in Guyana.

“In the hinterland regions we know there are persons with more than one identification card who draw (collect) pension under one name in one region then travel to the next and draw under the other name,” Minister Lawrence explained.

Minister Lawrence explained that the issue of double dipping is not limited to accessing pension, but also public assistance for school aged children.   She explained that some students are beneficiaries of public assistance in Guyana, but they also benefit from similar assistance in neighbouring Brazil.

“To address this, guardians will have to submit an attendance report for the child so that they can continue accessing such assistance,” Minister Lawrence explained.

Additionally, the Ministry will be digitalising the pension system to make it more efficient in identifying redundancies in the system. The digitised database will also indicate to the ministry persons who are authorising others to collect their pensions, which is an indication that they are not in Guyana.

The digitising of the pension database will also see greater accountability within the pension system, and probation officers will have more time do additional field work and conduct visitations.

The Social Protection Ministry has engaged the Ministry of Public Telecommunications to ensure that the two agencies can collectively run a pilot of this electronic project.

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Comments

  • George Dias  On July 7, 2016 at 11:04 am

    Am I correct in saying THAT PEOPLE WHO GET PENSIONS FROM GUYANA HAVE MADE A CONTRIBUTION INTO A PENSION FUND WHILE THEY WERE EMPLOYED IN GUYANA. IF THIS IS THE CASE I THINK THE MINISTER HAS THE UNMITIGATED GALL TO SAY THESE PEOPLE ARE DOUBLE DIPPING. THEIR PENSION IS NOT A GIFT. IT IS THEIR RIGHT TO RECEIVE THE MONEY WHICH THEY HAVE PAID INTO THE PENSION FUND UPON RETIREMENT.

  • Rosaliene Bacchus  On July 7, 2016 at 1:35 pm

    I have lost the 18 years and 14 years I paid into the pension funds of Guyana and Brazil, respectively. I have nothing to receive in the US as I haven’t paid sufficient years into the social security system. No double or triple dipping for me!

    • needybad4u  On July 8, 2016 at 2:18 am

      Should this situation give you enough reason not to return to Guyana?

  • Albert  On July 8, 2016 at 10:42 am

    Some of the people in high places are often not well informed. What she call “double dipping” is idiotic. If someone invested in Guyana pension system they have a right to collect their pension at the legal age. Maybe what she should do is legislate to make it difficult to convert local pension into foreign currency and save Guyana foreign reserve.

  • PivyAbra  On July 8, 2016 at 12:32 pm

    There are many Guyanese living abroad who has worked and contributed to a pension fund.
    It is their entitlement to receive a pension at the required age. Some of these people do not or will not receive a pension abroad for lots of reasons. It would be fair to examine these situations rather than accuse them of “double dipping”.

  • Joyce  On July 8, 2016 at 12:50 pm

    I believe what the Minister is talking about is the old age pension. That thing that Guyanese automatically collect when they reach the age of 60 whether they worked or not. It is a benefit for being born Guyanese. Has nothing to do with a workplace pension or NIS for that matter

  • Cynthia  On July 8, 2016 at 2:11 pm

    I believe what the Minister is talking about is the old-age pension, the thing that Guyanese citizens enjoy when they reach age 60 whether they contributed to the economy by working at a job or not. It is a privilege of being born Guyanese and has nothing to do with work or NIS for that matter. A work pension is what you accumulate from your place of employment during your working years. As a matter of note, the US does not automatically give its citizens an old-pension when they reach retirement age, You have to work to qualify for Social Security or a job pension. (Note: my mother who was a housewife all her life, got an old-age pension at age 60).

  • Clyde Duncan  On July 8, 2016 at 6:13 pm

    Rosaliene: This is a T-R-A-V-E-S-T-Y – anyway you frame it.

    It should NEVER happen …..

    I have lost the 18 years and 14 years I paid into the pension funds of Guyana and Brazil, respectively. I have nothing to receive in the US as I haven’t paid sufficient years into the social security system. No double or triple dipping for me!

  • Albert  On July 8, 2016 at 9:23 pm

    @ Cynthia: “I believe what the Minister is talking about is the old-age pension, the thing that Guyanese citizens enjoy when they reach age 60 whether they contributed to the economy by working at a job or not”

    What you say make sense. Maybe the Minister should have explain it better. Even so did anyone break any law if they collected this pension and US social security. If Guyana law did not forbid it who is at fault……the pensioner or those wrote the legislation.

  • Amanda  On July 10, 2016 at 8:32 pm

    Same rule applies in Canada, if you didn’t contribute to or contribute enough to the Canada Pension Plan then you don’t get anything much or at all at retirement. My father worked at Diamond Liquors for 25 years and when he left Guyana someone stole his DDL pension. He collected Pension from Guyana when he turned 65 because he contributed to NIS while living and working in Guyana. He didn’t collect any funds the last few years of his life as he was not well most of the time and couldn’t make it to the Guyana Consulate to get a life certificate. Now, I wondered who lined their pockets with the funds he never collected.

  • guyaneseonline  On July 20, 2016 at 3:52 pm

    Guyanese expats ineligible for old age pension
    By Tangerine Clarke

    Unless Guyanese living abroad decides to repatriate, they would not be entitled to Old Age Pension under a new measure that the Guyana government has recently put in place. This is according to Minister of Social Protection, Volda Lawrence who clarified after a firestorm by Guyanese at the announcement, that persons will only be eligible for Old Age Pension if they satisfy the age, citizenry, and residency requirements.
    Minister Lawrence, further made clear, that Old Age Pension of which she refers, is not an entitlement from employment such as Government Pension or National Insurance Scheme (NIS) Pension, but instead a monthly payment given to eligible Guyanese who have reached the age of 65.
    Some 8,000 Guyanese living outside of Guyana are benefitting from the monthly old age pension payments, said Minister Lawrence, who stated that expatriates are “double dipping” adding that the overseas-based Guyanese would return home yearly to get the benefit of which they are ineligible, short-changing those at home who need the pension money.
    Social media and news outlets in Guyana blew up with negative comments, because many Guyanese were not clear as to which Old Age Pension the minister was referring, since thousands of expatriates receive National Insurance Scheme and Government Pensions, and were outraged that the government was taking away their entitlement.
    However, Minister Lawrence clearly outlined the benefit, stating that a pensioner must satisfy the proper authority, and have been a citizen of Guyana for at least 10 years immediately preceding claim for pension.
    In addition, this pensioner must have being residing in Guyana during the 20 years immediately preceding his or her claim for pension.
    According to the statement from the Ministry of Social Protection: “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 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 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, said the statement.
    “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,” said Minister Lawrence.
    According to the Ministry of Protection website, the ministry will be digitizing the pension system to make it more efficient in identifying redundancies in the system. The digitized database will also indicate to the ministry, persons who are authorizing others to collect their pensions, which is an indication that they are not in Guyana.
    The digitalizing of the pension database will also see greater accountability within the pension system, and probation officers will have more time to do additional fieldwork and conduct visitations.
    The Social Protection Ministry has engaged the Ministry of Public Telecommunications to ensure that the two agencies can collectively run a pilot of this electronic project.
    Go to gina.gov.gy/no-double-dipping-minister-lawrence-pensioners-must-be-living-in-guyana to learn more.

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