Pension Authority failings to be discussed by FNC

An FNC member has concerns about the time it took the Pensions Authority to respond to leaks and rumours about changes to the retirement law.

Hamad Al Rahoomi, FNC member for Dubai, has tabled three questions, including one on retirement law. Fatima Al Marzooqi / The National
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ABU DHABI // An FNC member has concerns about the time it took the Pensions Authority to respond to leaks and rumours about changes to the retirement law.

Hamad Al Rahoomi, of Dubai, raised three questions to the chief executive of the General Pension and Social Security Authority, Obaid Al Tayer, who is also Minister for Financial Affairs.

Mr Al Rahoomi questioned the delay in responding to leaks about pension laws, and said that by the time an official denial was made many people had already made life-changing decisions.

“The leaks were that there would be amendments to the pensions law, that they would be negative, and there were many other pieces of information like raising the retirement age to 65,” he said.

It took the authority more than four months to respond to the leaks and rumours.

“This is a very long time,” Mr Al Rahoomi said.

During those four months, many people made decisions to quit their jobs, he said.

“Where is the true news? It was not there and damage was done.”

Abu Dhabi Police provided a good example of how government bodies should respond to rumour, Mr Al Rahoomi said.

Three days after a rumour circulated about a decision to cancel the 50 per cent discount on traffic fines, it was denied, he said.

But in the case of the Pensions Authority, the absence of a response made people think the information was correct.

“They thought since it has not been denied definitely there was something. When you do not deny, you are adding credence to the rumour.

“Why no response? This affects tens of thousands of beneficiaries.”

Mr Al Rahoomi’s second question is about the late release of pension payments to retirees.

“One retires and then three months later the salary is issued, so during these three months how does one live?” he asked.

He mentioned the case of a woman who retired and sought for three months, in vain, to get her pension.

“Every time she asked they told her that her file was still being processed,” Mr Al Rahoomi said. “A week or two later and that was still going on.”

He said that situation was not good enough for a government authority, considering all its efforts to establish a comprehensive smart government system.

In the private sector, if a company delayed the payment of a worker’s wage for a month it could face closure under Labour Law.

“So imagine when it is a government body,” said Mr Al Rahoomi.

A solution must be found immediately, he said.

“If there is a problem in the system or shortage in staff, it should not be my concern as a retiree. Any excuse is unacceptable.”

The third question posed by Mr Al Rahoomi is on the Marriage Fund and why a salary certificate from the Pensions Authority is required as proof of employment.

“What if the person works as a fisherman, or a farmer or a businessman, and is not registered in the authority? Do they reject his application?”

He argued that the fund has its own system and therefore should not reject such cases.

A response from the ministers is expected during the FNC session tomorrow.

The council will also discuss the Federal Budget 2016 draft law.