Recipients reject move to pay old age pension via banks

National 2 minutes, 37 seconds

BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN

SENIOR citizens and grassroots leaders have rejected the proposal to distribute the $250 old age pension through banks due to mobility and fraud concerns.

Reacting to Legislative Council (LegCo) members’ suggestions for senior citizens to collect their pension at banks, the elderly and village leaders told The Brunei Times that the distribution of pension should remain the responsibility of grassroots leaders.

During the 12th LegCo session, parliament members said the government should consider the option of paying pension money through banks for senior citizens who prefer it.

However, Abdul Wahab Timbang, head of Kg Rimba Landless Indigenous Citizens Housing Scheme (STKRJ), said it is more appropriate for the elderly to receive their pension from village heads, although he said he is “50-50” when it comes to agreeing to the suggestion.

While most recipients may collect the pension at the residence of the village head, he said some may have their pension delivered to them due to mobility issues.

Should the government decide to implement a system to distribute old age pension through banks, Abdul Wahab said he would still abide by it and try to find new ways to reach out to senior citizens.

He said the government may have to find ways to better ensure that pension recipients get the money and not to unintended persons when the recipients are no longer alive.

Head of STKRJ Kg Lambak Kiri Hj Hamdani Omar said that representatives of pension recipients are required to submit a letter from the appointer to prevent fraud in the collection of the money.

Should anything happen, the representative will be queried.

He also said that the bank-in method should only be applied for those who are incapable of reaching banks, including senior citizens with special needs.

However, the village head said it would not be a problem for senior citizens who are able to walk to receive the pension from their grassroots leader.

Hjh Jariah Mohiddin, a resident of Kg Kapok, said she still prefers to have her pension collected from or delivered to her by the village head.

The 75-year-old said she has limited transportation access for her to visit the bank and collect the pension, and she has no knowledge on how to deal with bank procedures.

“This is inconvenient for me; if it is handled by the village head, at the very least I would only know how to collect from him,” she said.

Hj Ismail Hj Chuchu, a 65-year-old resident of STKRJ Kg Lambak Kanan, said senior citizens would have to wait in the long queue when the pension is out, together with government and private employees who would also be queuing to get their salaries at the same time.

While pensioners are able to appoint their own representatives, he said it is safer to have their pension delivered to them, as there had been cases of dishonesty surrounding the idea of having representatives collecting the pension.

Issues surrounding the effectiveness and safety of old age pension distribution were brought up in previous Legislative Council (LegCo) sessions, but the government said there are no current plans to change the current distribution system.

The Brunei Times