Sri Lanka mulls national pensions scheme

COLOMBO (EconomyNext) – Sri Lanka’s new government wants to create a national contributory pension scheme that will include workers not covered by existing retirement benefit plans, a law maker said.

With the island’s population aging and people living longer, effective measures to take care of the elderly were essential, Deputy Minister of Policy Planning and Economic Affairs Harsha De Silva said.

"People are living longer. Soon one quarter of the population will be over the age of 60. It means a greater burden on younger people to look after older people. We need pensions for all."

There was a "serious discrepancy" now with people who work for the state enjoying pensions benefits but not private sector workers and many outside the formal private sector like fishermen, artisans and the self-employed, he said.

"So we must think of a national pension scheme and it has to be contributory," De Silva told a forum held to discuss a United Nations report on how the island had performed in meeting the Millennium Development Goals.

"There’s no way the government can continue to pay out pensions. Unfunded pensions are something of the past."

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