Publish: 18 Sep 2023, 11:08 am
On September 17th, it marked the completion of one month since the inauguration of Bangladesh's first-ever universal pension scheme. This scheme encompasses all citizens of the country, excluding government employees, making them eligible for pension benefits. To be eligible for online registration, individuals must be at least 18 years old.
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina officially launched this initiative on August 17th, and it received substantial attention and interest from the public, although questions about the pension program remain.
The program opened for enrollment on its launch day, with over 8,000 people registering online for the National Pension Scheme. Among them, 1,700 individuals completed the entire application process and made their initial contributions.
As of yesterday at 5:00 pm, a total of 12,972 people had enrolled in the Universal Pension Scheme, contributing a combined amount of Tk 7.7 crore, according to the National Pension Authority (NPA).
Among the various pension schemes offered, the "Progoti" program, designed for private sector employees, garnered the most interest with 6,194 enrollments and Tk 4.1 crore in deposits. The "Shurukkha" scheme, intended for self-employed individuals and informal sector workers such as farmers, rickshaw pullers, and day laborers, saw the next highest enrollment with 5,020 participants.
The "Somota" scheme, targeting the ultra-poor, attracted 1,360 participants, while the "Probash" scheme for expatriate Bangladeshis had 398 takers. Notably, individuals in the 31-40 age group showed the most interest in the month-old pension scheme, according to NPA officials.
Golam Mostafa, a member of the National Pension Authority, emphasized that their primary goal at present is to promote awareness of the pension scheme among the general public, rather than opening additional accounts. While the government initially announced six schemes during the inauguration, there are no plans to launch the remaining two, as stated by Golam Mustafa.
To participate in the universal pension scheme, individuals must register on the UPension website, providing information such as their National Identity Card (NID) or passport number, an active mobile phone number, bank account details, and the NID of the nominee. Anyone aged 18 or older can join the pension scheme by making contributions. The government aims to include at least 10 crore people in the pension system, with the goal of extending social security to 85 percent of the population employed in the informal sector and classified as low-income.
While it was anticipated that a social protection program like the universal pension scheme would generate rapid interest due to the lack of pension coverage for many people in Bangladesh, the response in the first month was not as substantial as expected. Nevertheless, officials at the Pension Authority believe that one month is insufficient to evaluate the success of such a scheme.
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