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Helping the self-employed

A Government Pension Scheme for the self-employed:

Sri Lanka is among the countries with a high ageing population. Presently over 10 percent is senior citizens (over 60 years) of the total population. Demography specialists have analyzed that these percentages will increase to 25 percent by 2025. It will be a huge challenge for senior citizens, children, the Government and society. When we consider the above situation, we need to have a strong social security benefit program to help our senior citizens.

All Government Servants are covered by the Government Pensions Scheme and other security benefits. At the same time employees of co-operative, statutory boards and other formal sector institutions receive some security benefits (EPF, ETF).

The majority of the population employed in Sri Lanka are self employed and they contribute a lot to the national economy. The Government is concerned over these sectors and has taken action to provide pension and social security benefits.


Self-employment, a solution to unemployment. AFP

The Sri Lanka Social Security Board (SLSSB) was established by Act No. 17 of 1996 and subsequently the areas of activity have been expanded by Act No. 33 of 1999. The SLSSB under the Social Services and Social Welfare Ministry has introduced a pension and social security benefits scheme especially to the self-employed. The following sectors were specified as those entitled to contribute to the Scheme.

Production excluding primary produce of agriculture, fisheries and livestock, Forestry and hunting, Mining and quarrying, manufacturing, storage and packing, Building and construction, Electricity, gas and water, Transport, Repair and maintenance, Trade and commerce, Insurance and banking, Real estate and business services, communication, community, social and personal services, occupation in any other sector excluding those covered by Farmers' and Fishermen's Pension and Social Security Benefit Scheme Acts.

These pension and social security schemes will provide monthly pension payment at the age of 60, death gratuity benefits, total and partial disability insurance benefits to the members.

Special projects

1. A special pension scheme "Samakadiriya" has been introduced to those engaging in self employment with physical disabilities and in addition to the benefits of the pension scheme they are also being granted self-employment assistance by the National Secretariat for Persons with Disabilities.

2. A pension scheme for practitioners of Indigenous Medicines who are registered with the Indigenous Ministry has been introduced by the name "Helaweda Rekawarana" and it is functioning with the co-ordination of Ayurvedic Commissioner's Department and the Indigenous Medicine Ministry.

3. A special pension scheme "Sip Savira" has been inaugurated for craftmen registered with the National Craft Council and it is in operation with co-ordination of the Sri Lanka Social Security Board.

4. A pension scheme for those who are employed abroad and registered with the Sri Lanka Foreign Employment Bureau has been introduced by the name "Sesatha" and functions with co-ordination of the Sri Lanka Social Security Board and Sri Lanka Foreign Employment Bureau.

5. A special pension scheme "Saraswathi" has been inaugurated for Artistes registered with the Cultural Affairs Department and it is in operation with co-ordination of the Sri Lanka Social Security Board.

6. Another pension scheme "Ransalu" introduced for weavers is a joint venture of the Sri Lanka Social Security Board and the Textile Ministry.

7. Small Tea Holders are covered by "Randalu" pension scheme and it is in operation with co-ordination of the Small Tea Development Authority.

8. Beauty culture sector persons are covered by "Rusiru" and it is in operation with co-ordination of the Sri Lanka Social Security Board.

Benefits of the pension scheme A monthly pension for life from the age of 60.

In the event of death of the contributor before completing 80 years the spouse is entitled to a monthly pension for the remaining period upto the time when the contributor would complete 80 years.

If the spouse is not alive, the heirs of the contributor are entitled to a lump sum payment of gratuity equal to the amount remaining deposited in the name of the contributor.

If the contributor suffers permanent, partial disablement, a bonus corresponding to the age and/or a monthly pension from the age of 60 for life.

If the contributor suffers permanent, total disablement a net contribution bonus together with interest or monthly payment of total disablement benefits for lifetime.

In the event of death, before receiving his pension, a lump sum gratuity to his/her dependents.

Members are entitled to an insurance claim of Rs. 6,000 to Rs. 25,000 in case of partial disability depending on the age of the member. An amount of total disability gratuity payment from Rs. 12,000 to Rs. 50,000 according to the age of the member or pension payment from the date of total disability will be granted. When a member dies before he /she becomes entitled to a pension, a gratuity ranging from Rs. 6,000 to Rs. 35,000 will be paid to the dependent based on the member's age at the time of death.

The eligibility for enrolment as a contributor is the applicant shouldn't be less than 18 years and not be more than 59 years and is not a contributor to agricultural pension schemes or fisheries pension scheme or any such pension schemes of the Government.

SLSSB has been able to achieve significant success in the operation of pension schemes in the past. The number of enrolments are over 325,000 and around 6,000 monthly pension payments are being made to members.

The activities of the SLSSB have been extended to almost all the districts and divisional secretariats except Kilinochchi, Mullativu and Mannar.

The aim of SLSSB will be "pension benefit for all Sri Lankan citizens" according to the Mahinda Chinthana.

Those interested in joining this scheme may contact the Social Service Officer of the respective Divisional Secretariat.

(The writer is Secretary, Social Services and Social Welfare Ministry)

 

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