28 February 2013

Namibia: Pensioners Want More Money

Photo: http://www.newera.com.na
A confident Minister of Finance Saara Kuugongelwa-Amadhila increased government spending to a record N$47.6 billion for the 2013/14 financial year.

Although pensioners have praised government for increasing their social grant, they feel the additional N$50 is "too little" and will not make much of a difference in their lives.

The Minister of Finance Saara Kuugongelwa-Amadhila on Tuesday tabled the N$47.6 billion national budget, which has increased by over N$7 billion from last year's budget of N$40.1 billion.

Currently pensioners get a monthly N$550 but this has now been increased to N$600 that government will pay to each eligible pensioner.

New Era spoke to some pensioners to solicit their views on the N$50 increase.

Dorothea Karigus (62) welcomed the move but said the money is far too little.

"We can't do much with the N$50. We have houses that we must still pay off. We have children who are attending school and need to pay their fees. We are not that disappointed but it is too little," stressed Karigus.

She feels government could have increased their monthly grant to N$700.

"In South Africa old people get N$1 200 per month. Life is hard for us; we shop at the same shops where highly paid people shop. Food prices are high, if I go buy maize meal and bread then the N$50 is finished. Government must re-look the matter," she said. Christofina Garises (60) expressed similar sentiments, saying she has children who are still attending school and the increase won't make much of a difference in their lives.

"I still have to pay off my house. I don't work anymore so really the N$50 is not much. We can't afford to buy food and pay for water and electricity. They must increase it to N$700," she suggested.

"We have grandchildren who need to go to hospital. The N$50 is only enough for taxi fare but not the hospital bills. At least government could have considered today's cost of living. I can only buy bread, milk and a 500-gram packet of sugar and then it's finished," Garises said.

Another pensioner, Johanna Boois (89) said "in general we are thankful to the government for the increment but it is too little given the high cost of living of today, with food prices and water and electricity bills having shot up".

Jan Maritz (73) who had his legs amputated some years back due to ill health said the increase will not positively impact their lives because life "is too expensive".

"We can't settle our debts. It is not enough to assist our families and pay for our own basic needs such as food and clothing. If government could increase it to N$1 200 like for our counterparts in South Africa then it could be better," he proposed.

John Coetzee (62) praised government for the increase but he was hoping for a N$100 increase to make it N$650 per month.

"Sometimes we only eat one meal per day because we don't have money to buy enough food. But we thank government for the increase as it will assist us to buy the basics such as bread and milk as well as soap to bath," he said.

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