Thousands to benefit from extension of retirement age

The Shoura Council’s recent decision to extend the retirement age of civilian employees from 60 to 62 is expected to benefit an estimated 850,000 workers on the verge of retirement.

When passed, the bill will increase the revenue of the country’s pension fund, enabling the fund to provide greater privileges to pensioners.

“The bill, which was prompted by factors such as the increase in life expectancy and receding senility thanks to the country’s excellent health care system, aims to achieve several pragmatic social and economic goals that will benefit society members and the productive and service sectors,” said Hussam Al-Anqari, a Shoura Council member and architect of the bill.

Fuad Al-Boqari, former chairman of the National Retirees Association, said the extension of the retirement age will enable the government to benefit from existing manpower for the development of the country.

He added that the country would also vastly benefit from the extensive experience and expertise of long-standing employees.

The move will also make pensioners eligible for a higher pension amount at the end of their services.

“The Public Pension Agency (PPA) will also see a spurt in its revenue after this extension,” he said.

Fouzia Akhdar, chairwoman of the female National Pensioners Society, stressed the need for considering the interests of women workers alongside their male counterparts.

“A female pensioner should be aware of her legal retirement rights, which should be clear and transparent,” she said.

“Her legal heir should have the right to benefit from her pension in the event of her death, even if the heir were getting his father’s pension.”

“Female pensioners should also have their own special identity cards specifying qualifications, past jobs, age, social status and specialization, preferably in Arabic,” she said.

Akhdar demanded setting up service offices for women pensioners to obtain their rights hassle-free.

The PPA received 31,000 applications for early retirement in 2012, registering a 16-percent increase compared with the previous year.

She said that most of the workers who took advantage of the early retirement provision were women, while 8,000 women workers retired at the normal age.

Lt. Gen. Abdul Aziz Al-Henaidi, chairman of the National Retirees Association, said women accounted for nine percent of the 850,000 pensioners included in the private sector until the end of last year.

The highest number of retired women was registered in the Makkah and Madinah provinces, followed by the Eastern Province.

Around 76,000 women workers had retired in the Kingdom last year, he said.

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