Nov 2, 2012

Indonesia - Asia developing countries need pension plan: report

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As the number of ageing people grows larger in Asia developing countries, people need to invest in pension and healthcare plans to ensure their prosperity in their twilight years.

A report titled "Ageing in the Twenty-First Century: A Celebration and A Challenge", jointly prepared by the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) and HelpAge International, says that investing in pensions, healthcare and legal protection is important.

HelpAge International's regional director for East Asia and the Pacific, Eduardo Klein, said yesterday that one thing needed to create more prosperous living conditions for the elderly was to ensure a secure minimum income in old age.

"If Indonesia can provide a steady minimum income to older persons, benefits can come to not only the older persons themselves but also their families and communities," he told journalists at the report's launch.

Since the year 2000, there are already more older people than children under the age of five. By 2050, there will be more elder people than young people under 15. Ageing is happening fastest in the developing world, caused by improved nutrition and healthcare as well as a sharp decline in the number of birth thanks to the success of family planning programmes in those countries.

With a fast-growing number of older persons, creating more prosperous living conditions for the elderly becomes a crucial issue. The report shows that investments in basic income security and pension systems amounting to between 0.5 and 1.5 per cent of gross domestic product (GDP) can create a universal benefit for older persons.

"If you can guarantee a minimum regular income for older persons, you can reduce the poverty gap, lifting a larger proportion of older persons to live above the poverty line," said Klein.

The more important thing is, he said, the guaranteed minimum regular income should benefit the members of the household.

"It recovers the dignity of older persons. And, it can also promote an environment that older persons can give more in terms of their own capacity," said Klein.

UNFPA data show that countries, such as China, the Republic of Korea and Singapore, will see a rise in the proportion of elderly to the total population from around 15 per cent to some 40 per cent by 2050.

Indonesia and other countries in the region, such as Malaysia and Myanmar, will see older people amounting to 20 per cent of the total population by 2050.

"Asia is now witnessing an unprecedented growth in [the number of] older people especially in countries in East and Southeast Asia, including Indonesia. This will present social, economic and cultural challenges to individuals, families, societies and global communities," said UNFPA Indonesia representative Jose Ferraris.

The number of Indonesian people aged 60 years and above reached 24 million or 8.5 per cent of the total population in 2010, far above the figure of 1 per cent during 1960-1970. The number of elderly is projected to reach 39 million by 2025 and 68 million or 23 per cent of the total population by 2040.

Elly Burhaini Faizal

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