Financial Times

WB suggests revitalising pension system

By Bandula Sirimanna

The World Bank says the pension system in Sri Lanka should be revitalised and strengthened as it faces a massive social challenge to provide income, health and other types of support to its elderly population in the coming decades.

Making this suggestion, the Bank’s visiting Human Development Director for South Asia Michal Rutkowski, said the country’s population will grow at an alarming rate with much lower levels of income which would impact on the services to the elders.

Speaking to the media last week, the one-time Director of the Office for Social Security Reform in the Polish Government as well as a co-author of the design of the new Polish pension system, told reporters that Sri Lanka will need to take appropriate policy measures in advance so as not to slow down economic growth, minimize impact on public health and pension spending and reduce the burden on families.

Mr. Rutkowski also suggested increasing the retirement age of 60 years as the country’s life expectancy is around 70 to 75 years as well as to devise a pension scheme for private sector employees. Re-orienting the health system to respond to an aging population will require developing a health system that enables Sri Lankans at all ages to achieve healthy aging, minimizing the costs of the health system, and reducing out-of-pocket catastrophic health expenditure, he said.

He commended Sri Lanka’s Samurdhi programme as one of the best initiatives taken to tackle poverty in the Asian region and it should be continued in a transparent manner. The World Bank is evaluating the scheme and the number of beneficiaries should be reduced as a sizable number of them is now above the poverty line, he said .

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