Reports in the media about the various sufferings of Guyana’s pensioners continue to jolt one’s conscience; the latest involves the cruel hassles imposed on them by an apparently mindless bureaucracy which insists that they endure a nightmare of days annually just to collect their pension books.
For Guyanese who might not be aware, it is noted that for each year that these poor pensioners survive the harsh realities of living on the pittance called ‘pension’, they must first collect a pension book containing 12 pages; they then encash each page at the end of each month at the nearest Post Office; even this monthly ‘encashment’ often poses physical and financial hardships for the pensioners who have to travel to the Post Offices and often have to wait for long hours, sometimes in the sun and rain reminiscent of their toiling through decades of hard work and hardships (unlike some Guyanese who ride on their backs as politicians for a few years and then collect fat sums as pensions, irrespective of their ages and financial status!).
The letter by Baliram Persaud in SN of 26/11/16 is a vivid description of what the pensioners at the Suddie Amerindian Hostel had to endure, as an example of the shameful and mindless processes being imposed on them just to collect their yearly pension books. As detailed in the letter, the pensioners, many feeble or sick, had to wait from dawn until the staff distributing the books arrive after 10.00am and instead of showing some humaneness, they virtually ‘pushed the pensioners around’ for hours before they could collect their books. What was worse is that many could not get their books before it was time for the book-distributors to ‘close shop for the day’ so that those who did not make it to the top of the line for that day had to return the next day.
Surely, there must be a smarter, easier, less cumbersome way! How about just making the pension book available to the pensioner when she/he collects the pension for the 11th or 12th month of the current year for use in the next year. If the checks and balances and related safeguards required for the actual payment/collection of the cash are satisfied, then the same can apply to the collection of the pension book. Why complicate an obviously simple exercise at the harsh, inhumane cost of the poor pensioners?