ABU DHABI // The Federal National Council has called for reform of the retirement and pension systems to encourage more Emiratis to work in the private sector.
In a letter to the President, Sheikh Khalifa, FNC members have asked for amendments to the law that would increase eligibility to pensions, harmonise the two existing pension systems and bring forward the retirement age for many women.
In particular, they suggest that Emirati businessmen and owners of small and medium enterprises be permitted to register with the Pensions and Social Welfare Authority, and thus become eligible for state pensions.
"This will motivate nationals to think about working in the private sector, since the country's policy supports nationals to work in the private sector and encourages and facilitates that for them," the FNC says in its letter.
Members have also suggested that UAE nationals who have retired be allowed to seek new jobs while still collecting a state pension, “because this will encourage locals to work in the private sector”.
The FNC has also asked for an end to the anomaly that means pensions for those who retired before 2008 are less generous than for those retired after 2008, for pensions to be linked to the rate of inflation and for changes to women’s eligibility for a pension to be reversed.
Before, women were entitled to a pension after having worked for 20 years. Now, they must have reached the age of 50. Men become eligible for a pension after 35 years’ service, or at the age of 65.
Ahmed Al Shamsi (Ajman) said some occupations required an earlier start than others, and a woman could easily work for 20 years and still not have reached the age of 50.
“So she works for 20 years and should then be able to retire,” he proposed.
In their wide-ranging letter to the President, the FNC also asked for a unified health insurance system across all seven emirates. At present only Emiratis who live in Abu Dhabi are covered by comprehensive Thiqa health insurance, with coverage elsewhere patchy.
Members also asked for new rules making attendance at high school compulsory. Some members suggested that penalties be imposed on young people who fail to complete secondary education.