I am a retired service officer now resident in the US. Ever since my residency here, I have continuously and persistently faced many trials and tribulations in obtaining my paltry pension. Most of my colleagues also endure many unwarranted difficulties due to:-
1. Unreasonable system and procedures in remitting the pension to those pensioners resident abroad.
2. Blatant and total indifference of the Foreign Pension Department, total lack of empathy.
3. The delays on the part of the designated State Banks in remitting the monthly pensions and the prohibitive charges imposed on the remittances.
While problems are many, below are the main issues.
1. SYSTEM &PROCEDURES
It is a prerequisite for the payment of pensions every month that the following designated documents have to be submitted to the state banks in Sri Lanka.
a. Life Certificate
b. Application for transfer of pension overseas.
c. Personal Bank Account particulars.
Why these documents are required monthly is not understood.
2. BLATANT INDIFFERENCE: The Foreign Pensions Department never responds to letters or email. Even registered letters are of no effect. The response to telephone inquiries is of indifference. The experience of attempting to obtain any information is most frustrating.
3. BANK DELAYS AND PROHIBITIVE CHARGES: While only certain designated state banks are authorized to remit the pension of overseas pensioners, invariably the remittances are delayed due to the receipt of stipulated documents. Apart from the inevitable recurring delays, the Bank imposed prohibitive charges.
For example: A pensioner in receipt of a monthly pension of Rs. 30.000.00, the equivalent of U.S. $ 260.00 would be subject to
Bank charges LKR 750.00
Swift charges LKR 1500.00
Further charges LKR 3500.00 – 4.000.00
USD 30.00 Rs. 4500.00
TOTAL CHARGES LKR 6750.00
When our service colleagues meet, the topic of conversation is invariably the unreasonable system and procedures adopted by the Foreign Pensions Department, and the blatant and total indifference of the Pensions Department.
It is timely that the Minister of Finance looks into these serious grievances of overseas pensioners as a matter of priority.
Captain S. DE SILVA (Retd.)