x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 25 July 2017

Early retirement for women is a ‘waste of UAE’s resources’, minister tells FNC

One FNC member said some of the biggest problems in society could be resolved by allowing women to retire earlier, including unemployment, spinsterhood and high dependency on maids.

ABU DHABI // Lowering the retirement age for women would be a waste of the country’s resources, the deputy head of the pensions authority told the Federal National Council yesterday.

Obaid Al Tayer, Minister of State for Financial Affairs, said legislators saw fit to increase years of service from 15 to 20 in 2007, and tie retirement to the age of 50.

“Trained women would leave work after the country has spent a lot of money towards educating them,” Mr Al Tayer said. “It would also mean that the authority would spend more on their pension.”

He said it was particularly problematic as a women’s life expectancy was three years more than a man’s. “We see a lot of other countries increasing retirement age.”

But the issue is bigger than that, said Mosabeh Al Kitbi (Sharjah) who initially called for the early retirement.

Some of the biggest problems in society can be resolved by allowing women to retire earlier, including unemployment, spinsterhood and high dependency on maids.

“Today we see in the media stories of children falling from buildings,” Mr Al Kitbi said. “Yes, women have achieved a lot in politics, diplomacy, economics. We thank them, but where is their role at home? Who looks after the children? Maids.”

He said early retirement would be an option only for those who wanted it and would also boost population numbers.

The minister acknowledged Mr Al Kitbi’s sentiments, but insisted the law was clear.

“In the end I speak upon the law limits,” Mr Al Tayer said. “With respect to his personal views … this is the law, and the legislators amended it and extended it.”

He said a study conducted every two years has found the UAE should follow other countries and perhaps even increase the retirement age.

“We cannot forget the law also protects beneficiaries,” Mr Al Tayer said. “There must be a balance in what comes in and what is spent on beneficiaries. The law is not linked to emotions.”

Mr Al Kitbi said Mr Al Tayer could not simply brush off the problems in society. He asked the council to raise a proposal to the Cabinet asking for early retirement and added that Kuwait and Qatar were looking into lowering the age for women.

Although the FNC speaker, Mohammed Al Murr, reminded the council that a similar proposal was sent from the council to the Cabinet last year, most members voted on Tuesday for a new proposal to be sent.

The minister was also queried about a law prohibiting retired Emiratis from working and collecting pensions if the total was more than Dh10,000 a month.

Hamad Al Rahoomi (Dubai) said the law did not make sense as they should not be stopping Emiratis from working if they could, and a pension was their right.

Mr Al Tayer told Mr Al Rahoomi to look at the “bigger picture”. He said a working retiree could be keeping a younger jobseeker from employment, and young people needed jobs to start contributing to their own pensions.

osalem@thenational.ae