Jan Gul, 83, a resident of Dalazak village, came to the National Bank of Pakistan with his son to receive his pension. With one trembling hand clutching a walking stick and the other on his son’s shoulder for support, Jan came out of the bank and squatted on the ground for some rest.
Talking to The Express Tribune, Jan’s son Mian Gul said he came with his father because he could not walk alone. “He is a retired class-IV employee and has been suffering from a heart problem for seven years now.”
Speaking of the 10% pension raise announced by the federal government in the budget, Mian asked, “What will happen with such an insignificant increase?”
“Prices of food items such as flour, ghee, sugar and pulses are increasing day by day, while the pension only increases by 10%,” complained Mian. “It is unjust.”
Sher Rahman, an elderly person waiting in line for his pension inside the bank, also voiced his displeasure over the meager increase.
“We are aged people, and as we grow older, our sufferings and ailments increase,” said Rahman. “I am diabetic and have high blood-pressure, which means a huge amount of my pension is spent on medicines and doctors.”
“My bones hurt and my eyes are weak after years of service. My children are unemployed and this pension is the only source of income for my family. I have to pay utility bills, get my daughters married and meet daily expenditures. Do you think this is possible with a Rs14,000 income?” questioned the retired worker.
When contacted, Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (K-P) Minister for Finance Sirajul Haq presented a different viewpoint. “The solution to these problems is not to raise pensions, but to reduce the prices of daily commodities,” said Haq. “Only a handful of people rely on salaries and pensions; the K-P government is focusing on making a budget for the general public.”
Published in The Express Tribune, June 6th, 2014.
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