Rwanda: Lawmakers Propose Early Access to Pension Benefits

Lawmakers have proposed early access to pension benefits for employees who have lost jobs as a result of various circumstances such as restructuring, or layoffs among other factors.

The Members of Parliament made the proposal on Monday, August 10, 2020, during a session in which the legislators voted the law establishing the general statute governing public servants.

According to article 85 of the approved law, a public servant who attains 65 years of age retires, which is when one can access their pension benefits.

However, it adds a public servant who attains at least 60 years of age may apply to the competent authority for early retirement.

They argued that with such a provision and that of the 2015 law governing the organization of pension schemes, employees who lose job risk leading miserable lives once they have not yet turned at least 60 - the minimum age of retirement and entitlement to pension.

The 2015 pension law also provides that for a member of the social security scheme to access monthly old-age benefits (pension), he/she shall meet requirements including to have contributed to the pension scheme for at least fifteen (15) years.

The MPs pointed out that when a person loses occupation aged over 50, their likelihood to get another employment is very low given that institutions tend to consider relatively younger applicants in their recruitment process.

MP Theogene Munyangeyo said that an employee should be entitled to pension if they contributed to the pension scheme for the required period.

"It is unfair for a person who has served the country and contributed to the pension scheme for say 26 years, has a family and loses the job when they are 56 years old, to not have access to their pension benefits, yet they do not any other source of livelihoods.

"We should rather consider ways to improve the situation. If need be, a study should be carried out to understand how an arrangement can be made in order to help pension scheme members have early access to pension," he said.

MP Deogratias Bizimana Minani said that there are people who were employed by the Government, yet their employment contract ran out before reaching 60 years of age. As a result, he said, they are struggling to survive yet they contributed to the pension scheme for over 20 or even 30 years.

"There should be a provision that protects them so that they can easily receive pension benefits. There are many former public servants who told us (as MPs) to make advocacy for them about that issue," he said.

MP Veneranda Nyirahirwa said that "as the parliamentarians representing Rwandans, our responsibility is to identify the loopholes in the legislation and fix them," she said pointing to the need to protect an employee who has lost occupation before reaching the set retirement age.

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