FNC members unhappy about no-show from UAE minister

They want the Minister of State for Financial Affairs to appear before the session, not to answer their queries by letter.

Dr Abdullah Al Shamsi was displeased by the absence of the Minister of State for Financial Affairs from the FNC session yesterday. Sammy Dallal / The National
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ABU DHABI // FNC members expressed displeasure after Obaid Al Tayer, Minister of State for Financial Affairs and deputy head of the Pensions Authority, failed to attend yesterday's session to answer questions.

Members had queries about pensions after the minister attended a session a month ago to discuss the Companies Law.

At the time, Mr Al Tayer said he could not answer them because the pensions committee was undergoing a reshuffle, but he said he would appear at yesterday's session. Instead, he sent written responses.

"He was late more than once," said Dr Abdullah Al Shamsi (Ajman). "Now he is sending letters. This is something weird and strange, and it is repeating."

Dr Al Shamsi was unhappy with the response he received about employees who retired before 2008, when pensions were increased. He said they had not received the increase.

"Will they be receiving raises to their pensions like the others?" he had asked.

Mr Al Tayer's letter said the increases applied to those who retired before 2008 and to those who were receiving pensions from the Ministry of Finance before the Pensions Authority was created.

But Dr Al Shamsi said pensions for those who retired in 2000 was lower than those who retired after 2008.

Mosabeh Al Kitbi (Sharjah), who asked the Pension Authority to adjust the number of years of work required before women could retire to 15, was also unsatisfied with his answer.

The minister's response reviewed the pensions law and pointed out that Article 16 of federal Law No 7 said men and women could only receive pensions at the of age 50, and not according to years of service.

Linking pensions with age has several objectives such as limiting early retirement, which could lead to a shortage in manpower.

If that was changed for women, Mr Al Tayer said, there would be an increase in early retirement and a loss of local talent after the Government had spent considerable amounts to train workers.

This would make a heavier burden on the pension budget, making it unable to meet future needs.

Mr Al Tayer's letter cited examples from other Arabian Gulf and European countries that changed their pension laws and lifted retirement ages.

"These answers do no benefit. This response is the same as a previous response, he just changed the dates. And some information is not true," Mr Al Kitbi said.

Hamad Al Rahoomi (Dubai) asked about letting retired Emiratis have jobs while collecting pensions. The law limits earned income to Dh9,000 a month.

"So why not amend this article, which has been a barrier for the recruitment of many retirees?" Mr Al Rahoomi asked.

Mr Al Tayer said the law did not allow for two pensions, and in such a case the higher pension would be granted.

It also says that if a person has a salaried job, and the value of the salary is greater than the pension, the pension is cancelled.

The member insisted it should be permissible for a person who spent more than 25 years working for the Government to receive a pension and his salary, no matter how much their value. "The response is not enough," Mr Al Rahoomi said.