An all-inclusive care program for older persons aged 65 and above is set to be introduced if Older Persons’ Bill 2019 is enacted into law.
Cabinet on Monday okayed the Bill to be tabled before Parliament, government spokesperson, Ofwono Opondo said on Tuesday.
“The Bill if enacted into law will enable government care for older persons. In Uganda, pension is given to a retired civil servant aged 60 years for a period of 15 years. The old law anticipates that at 75 years, the pensioner would be dead but we have seen some of them live up to 90 years, hence this Bill,” Opondo explained.
In Uganda, former civil servants are entitled to pension upon retirement while private sector employees are entitled National Social Security Fund savings upon retirement at 55 years.
“How about those older persons who have never worked with government and never saved with the NSSF?’’ Opondo asked.
He explained that the Bill seeks to amend and harmonise existing inconsistent or inadequate provisions in the current law.
“You have seen some older persons selling their land to look after themselves, pay for funeral expenses of their loved ones. Government will introduce care for all,” Opondo said.
The objective of the Bill is to enhance protection and realisation of older person’s rights, promote and protect their wellbeing, safety and security.
The Bill according to Opondo, will be used as a tool to combat abuse of older persons and provide for their rights to social protection.
Gender, labour and social development minister, Janat Mukwaya is set to table the Bill before Parliament.
The legislation will streamline care services for older persons and provide for a structure through which free and fair elections of representatives of older persons’ councils can be conducted at all levels.
The Bill comes at a time government is implementing Social Assistance Grants for Empowerment (SAGE) to over 156,200 selected beneficiaries in 57 districts aged 65 years and above.
SAGE is part of Expanding Social Protection (ESP) implemented by government under the ministry of gender. It is funded by government, UK’s department for International Development and Irish Aid.
Aimed at an assured dignified social welfare to older persons, sh25, 000 is given out per month.
Development partners committed £50m between 2010 and 2015 and government under phase II of the programme implementation (2015/16-2019/20), committed sh149b. Government spends sh32.9b annually on SAGE.
When the national rollout kicks off in 2019/20 financial year, the government is targeting a total of 358,000 additional beneficiaries of 80 years and above. This means government needs to increase the program’s budget from sh32.9b to sh142b.