Make people’s golden years truly golden

Senior citizens at work.

The 40 to 60 year olds should be trained and engaged in active economic activities such as small and medium enterprises with the backing of the state.

I highlighted previously how our government was failing to encourage people to participate in the economy by encouraging them to use their pension funds to grow their economic standing while still active.

It is a fact that many take the money and use it unproductively in pursuit of risky get-rich-quick schemes or spending sprees. In most cases the pay-out is finished within a year because many beneficiaries fail to seek professional advice on how to invest it or spend it wisely.

There is a crucial period between the age of 50 and 60 years when many people are unemployable due to old age and lack of energy.

Also, people at this age do not get the state-sponsored pension grant because they are below the qualifying age of 60. As they are regarded too old to work officially but too young to get a grant, they become the lost generation with no income.

Even those aged 40 and 50 are at risk of being left in limbo due to the policy that encourages employers to hire people between 18 and 35. At age 40 to 50, if someone lost a job for some reason, it’s hard to get another one.

Sadly, the government’s training programmes target only the 18-35 age group, thereby shutting the door of opportunities to those above 35.

If our economy is to grow in the way that we all wish, the 40 to 60 year olds should be trained and engaged in active economic activities such as small and medium enterprises with the backing of the state.

Funding of start-up business projects for people of up to 50 should be obligatory from the state, while those up to 60 could be offered early retirement and encouraged to use their pension money to start businesses and become entrepreneurs and employers.

Government talks more than it acts about growing SMEs and providing jobs through them. They refer people to the existing state financing agents where funds are frequently misdirected and often entangled in corruption.

I was inspired after reading the Address to the Nation (an equivalent of our presidential State of the Nation address) delivered by the president of Kazakhstan, Kassym-Jomart Tokayev, on September 2. He addressed the exact same thing, albeit with a different focus.

Tokayev wants to see domestic pension used to develop the people who contributed to the fund while they were working, instead of it paid out at the pension age.

“Currently, a working person can only access his pension savings on retirement. But the desire of people to use these funds during their working lives is understandable.

“I instruct the government by the end of the year to consider how the targeted use by working citizens of part of their pension savings, for example, for buying a house or getting an education might be achieved.”

Tokayev extended his vision to ensure bigger families were not a burden on the fiscus but were able to make a living themselves.

Similarly, his government is to work closely with the Atameken National Chamber of Entrepreneurs, to develop a special programme for the participation of mothers of large families in micro and small businesses, including through home working.

Eric Naki

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