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Secure Old Age Now

Daily Nation

March 28, 2009 




The recent Cabinet approval to extend the retirement age from 55 to 60 years should set alarm bells ringing for Kenyans. Predictably, the public has caught on to the impact this would have on unemployed youth if civil servants remain on the job.

But for most of those affected, the decision is literally a new lease on life as retirement translates into certain death in Kenya. 

After spending their lives struggling to make ends meet, public servants drilled to operate more like automatons rather than skilled and competitive professionals stumble into an unfamiliar world and, according to studies, expire in short order.

In an irony of sorts, both proponents and opponents of the new government fiat — probably informed by incapacity to make huge lump-sum payments to pensioners than altruism — have valid points. The unemployment and underemployment rates are now of crisis proportions.

Clearly, there is system failure here, and things need to change. Years of economic mismanagement, particularly during the Kanu era where the employees at issue were no curious onlookers, have resulted in the ill fortunes of retirees.

First, civil servants who watch as politicians, whose stake in government is at best fleeting and at worst criminal, pillage state resources, have to play the watchdog role for their own sake if not for those of their offspring. 

When Treasury uses taxpayers’ money to pay for food shortages arising from mismanagement or to pay for oil that mysteriously disappears, that is your pension being eroded.

Two, state employees will have to accept a shake-up of their pension system resulting in greater personal contribution to their future. The alternative is catastrophic.

Every Kenyan should be made aware that if they accept bad leadership and acquiesce to economic mismanagement, they are going to pay in old age. We have just watched Nairobi Stock Exchange racketeers mess with our national wealth and, woe betide you if you are retiring now.

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