Windhoek-The government allocated N$3 billion during the last financial year towards monthly allowances for 211,447 old-age pensioners and people living with disabilities, the latest statistics show.
Statistics provided by the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Poverty Eradication and Social Welfare, I-Ben Natangwe Nashandi, indicate that government spent on average N$251 million monthly during the 2017/18 financial year in N$1,200 monthly allowance per person on 41,061 people living with disabilities and 170,386 senior citizens.
The N$3 billion is part of the N$6.3 billion, or 10.1 percent of the budget, allocated towards sustaining various poverty-reducing social safety nets such as the old-age social grant and grants to war veterans, orphans and vulnerable citizens, as well as people living with disabilities.
Nashandi indicated that, as part of the government’s commitment to protecting the poor and vulnerable in the society, the old-age pension grant has been on the increase since 2015.
In 2015, the social grant was increased from N$600 to N$1,000. Furthermore, in 2016 it was increased by N$100, resulting in each pensioner receiving N$1,100.
During the 2017/2018 financial year, the old-age pension and disability grants were once again increased to N$1,200 per month (N$14,400 per year).
Finance Minister Calle Schlettwein, in his 2018/2019 budget speech, indicated that the old age pension grant would go up by N$50 from N$1,200 to N$1,250 (an increase of just over 4 percent).
Schlettwein said the increase in old-age pension was aimed at improving the living standards of the elderly and lift them from the poverty line.
The increment comes into effect on April 1, 2018, and the actual payment will be done once the Appropriation Bill 2018 is passed by Parliament and signed into law by the Head of State.
He, therefore, urged the beneficiaries to use the state grants, especially the old age pension grant, for their own welfare and that of their families and not to spend it on alcohol and gambling.