Thousands to benefit from extension of retirement age

Updated 21 May 2014
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Thousands to benefit from extension of retirement age

The Shoura Council’s recent decision to extend the retirement age of civilian employees from 60 to 62 is expected to benefit an estimated 850,000 workers on the verge of retirement.
When passed, the bill will increase the revenue of the country’s pension fund, enabling the fund to provide greater privileges to pensioners.
“The bill, which was prompted by factors such as the increase in life expectancy and receding senility thanks to the country’s excellent health care system, aims to achieve several pragmatic social and economic goals that will benefit society members and the productive and service sectors,” said Hussam Al-Anqari, a Shoura Council member and architect of the bill.
Fuad Al-Boqari, former chairman of the National Retirees Association, said the extension of the retirement age will enable the government to benefit from existing manpower for the development of the country.
He added that the country would also vastly benefit from the extensive experience and expertise of long-standing employees.
The move will also make pensioners eligible for a higher pension amount at the end of their services.
“The Public Pension Agency (PPA) will also see a spurt in its revenue after this extension,” he said.
Fouzia Akhdar, chairwoman of the female National Pensioners Society, stressed the need for considering the interests of women workers alongside their male counterparts.
“A female pensioner should be aware of her legal retirement rights, which should be clear and transparent,” she said.
“Her legal heir should have the right to benefit from her pension in the event of her death, even if the heir were getting his father’s pension.”
“Female pensioners should also have their own special identity cards specifying qualifications, past jobs, age, social status and specialization, preferably in Arabic,” she said.
Akhdar demanded setting up service offices for women pensioners to obtain their rights hassle-free.
The PPA received 31,000 applications for early retirement in 2012, registering a 16-percent increase compared with the previous year.
She said that most of the workers who took advantage of the early retirement provision were women, while 8,000 women workers retired at the normal age.
Lt. Gen. Abdul Aziz Al-Henaidi, chairman of the National Retirees Association, said women accounted for nine percent of the 850,000 pensioners included in the private sector until the end of last year.
The highest number of retired women was registered in the Makkah and Madinah provinces, followed by the Eastern Province.
Around 76,000 women workers had retired in the Kingdom last year, he said.


Indian exporters urge government to negotiate lift of Saudi ban on produce 

Updated 29 min 12 sec ago
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Indian exporters urge government to negotiate lift of Saudi ban on produce 

  • The ban was imposed in wake of Nipah virus outbreak last May 
  • With mango season around the corner, Kerala exporters hope the Kingdom will allow imports again

NEW DELHI: Indian exporters have urged the government to ask Saudi Arabia to lift the importation ban on fruits and vegetables from the southern state of Kerala.

The outbreak of a deadly virus in certain parts of Kerala in May last year forced Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries to ban imports of horticultural products from the state. 

Most GCC countries have lifted the ban thereafter.

“We are losing more than $1,000 per day as a result of the ban,” says P.E. Ashraf Ali of Pomona Exports, a Kerala-based export company that has been sending fruits and vegetables to Saudi Arabia for the past 20 years.

“We are now sending our products to other south Indian cities, like Coimbatore and Bangalore, and this entails extra costs for us and has significantly reduced our profit margin,” Ali told Arab News.  

Around 20 exporters in Kerala export horticulture products to GCC countries.

“Saudi Arabia is one of the major markets for us in the Gulf region,” said Ali. “Riyadh, Dammam and Jeddah are three major airports to which we send our products.” 

V.S. Sunil Kumar, Kerala's agriculture minister, called it “a serious issue.”

He said: “I have already sent two letters to the union government in New Delhi to talk to Saudi Arabia and sort out the matter. New Delhi should reassure them and request them to lift the ban.”

Kumar, who is also a minister in the communist government in the southern state, reiterated the importance of trade with Saudi Arabia.

“Kerala and the Kingdom have shared close trade and cultural ties for centuries,” he told Arab News. “I understand the central government has already taken up the issue with authorities in Saudi Arabia. New Delhi should take more proactive steps to address the concerns of exporters in Kerala.”

V Venugopal, president of the Cochin Chamber of Commerce and Industry, a premier trade body in Kerala, called for inter-governmental discussion between India and Saudi Arabia to sort out this issue.

“The Kerala government has taken very effective steps to control the Nipah virus,” he said. “If exports do not resume soon, the fruit and vegetable market will be very badly impacted. These are very perishable items that cannot be stored. The Indian government should convince Riyadh that Nipah was a small incident that happened more than seven months ago.”

He said that mangoes from Kerala are among the most popular in Saudi Arabia and that many people from Kerala living in Saudi Arabia are expecting the fruit. 

“This is not only a loss for local farmers, but for people in the country,” he said.

Arab News approached the Commerce Ministry in New Delhi on this issue, but received no comment.