The launch of the new Senior Citizens Foundation (Fiji) Lautoka branch today will allow members to meet at a common place and create a caring environment for each other.
Speaking at the official launch at the Lautoka Club this morning, Hon. Minister for Women, Children and Poverty Alleviation Rosy Akbar said work done by the foundation to empower senior citizens in society complemented her Ministry’s efforts.
The foundation, which started work three years ago, provided identification cards for its 850 members for discount at pharmacies, eye consultants, medical centres, testing labs and hair salons.
Minister Akbar said the formation of National Council for Older Persons (NCOP) ensured that the rights and interests of senior citizens in Fiji were looked after.
She stressed that the welfare of senior citizens was a priority for the Fijian Government.
“The NCOP financial grants, which started in the last year, have trickled down to the various institutional homes for the elderly, the handicapped and the underprivileged. A total of $110,000 has been given to seven institutional homes,” Minister Akbar said.
A total of 12,720 senior citizens, who are 70 years and over and have never received any form of superannuation funds, are benefiting from the Social Pension Scheme.
“They receive a monthly allowance of $50 and the age is to be reduced to 68 years from July this year. A total of 45,896 individuals including senior citizens aged 60 years and over along with the persons living with disabilities are benefiting from government’s bus fare scheme. The senior citizens pay only 50 per cent of the bus fare while persons with disabilities travel for free,” Minister Akbar said.
Minister Akbar has called on families to look after their elderly, respect them and show them compassion because they have contributed to Fiji’s development.
She said the National Ageing Policy through National Council for Older Persons will ensure the inclusion and empowerment of senior citizens in their homes and communities.
Senior Citizens Foundation Lautoka branch president, Pusp Raj said the idea to let senior citizens meet and greet, share lifestyle and receive health tips was well received by the members.
Mr Raj they looked forward to Government support in the near future to make the lives of senior citizens easier.
“We have put forward some recommendations to the Minister and she has assured us that our proposals will be looked into. One such proposal is that we need a general ID card issued to all senior citizens which will have several benefits contained in one single card,” Mr Raj said.