LAITY

It is officially open season. The kickoff was given by none other than the Prime Minister himself on the occasion of the International Day for Older Persons. He promised to double old age pension should his party be voted back into power. Pensioners would concede that the increased pension that has been allocated by this government has alleviated a number of their woes and that the amount being promised can only be better for them. The government should however not underestimate the pensioner. While the latter would welcome an extra amount of money, which will be doubled in some households, he or she might also wonder about the provenance of such a huge amount of money, to begin with. Does a raise in pension mean hidden increase in the cost of living? Would the cost of foodstuff rise even higher? Would the cost of medicines increase? Where is the catch? Wouldn’t it make more sense to start giving out allocations to newborns to be in line with the government’s urge to increase the birth rate, instead of taking pensioners for people whose mind have been addled with age, and who would accept a bribe disguised as a promise? Many would argue that the Prime Minister has successfully dangled the pension carrot before, hence his repetitive action. Others would see this as an uninspired political move. Coupled with the promise of a home physician, the government is doing nothing to value the elderly. Instead it is reducing the growing number of older Mauritians to people who need to be handed money and whose health may automatically deteriorate. If the government truly wants to promise a better future for the elderly, it should consider proposing “mentoring programs” to corporates where skilled retired people transmit their expertise to young people stepping in the fields, in exchange of a stipend. It should also consider focusing on addressing mental health issues for the elderly who find themselves increasingly on their own. The pension promise is déjà vu. The government should rack its brains a little more if it wishes to be considered more intelligently.