18 May 2005

The Web

Invalidity pension reform still in “discussion stage” as bill tops Lm15 million

James Debono

The bill on invalidity pensions costs the country more than Lm15 million and according to the latest statistics published by the National Statistics Office the bill has increased by 11 per cent in the last year.
But contacted by The Malta Financial and Business Times a spokesperson for the Ministry for the Family and Social Solidarity explained that “the reform entails a complex process” and that the government is still in the “discussion and analysis phase that is required before strategies for such reforms can be formulated.”
During the budget speech a reform of the system regulating invalidity pensions was announced. The aim of this reform was to curb abuses. Yet little progress on this reform has been made since the budget.

Asked on the number of persons currently benefiting from invalidity pensions, the Ministry informed The Malta Financial and Business Times that the number of persons currently benefiting from invalidity pensions is 8,835 (2,133 females and 6,702 males) and the expenditure involved amounts to Lm15,423,023.
The Law says that for a person to benefit from an invalidity pension, his/her incapacity “needs to be considered as of a permanent nature.” When the permanency of the incapacity cannot be conclusively established but it is deemed as incapacitating the person for at least three years, a review after three or five years is carried out according to recommendations by the Medical Board to the Director.
The Ministry would not say whether past cases of persons benefiting from invalidity pensions are being investigated since the process is still under discussion and analysis. The spokesperson insisted that nothing is being excluded at this stage.
In a statement last week the National Office of Statistics published figures which showed that the government 's total expenditure on social security benefits last year rose by Lm6.5 million.
One of the most significant increases within the contributory benefits category was observed in the national minimum invalidity pension, which increased by Lm1.3 million, or 11.8 per cent, mainly due to an increase of 397 in the number of beneficiaries.


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