Among the four schemes introduced under the Universal Pension Scheme (UPS), the Progoti scheme, which is for private sector employees, has secured the highest number of enrollers so far.
Since the inauguration of the UPS on 17 August, a total of 6,400 people enrolled in the four schemes — Probash, Progoti, Shurokkha and Somota — and paid their monthly instalments till Saturday, of which, 39% (2,500) are private sector employees, an official of the finance division, requesting anonymity, told The Business Standard on Sunday.
Finance Division officials said the Universal Pension Scheme, unveiled by the prime minister with an aim to bring all citizens above the age of 18 under pension coverage, has kicked off with a promising beginning.
UPS is getting a huge response from expatriates as well, they said, about 2,000 expatriates have enrolled in the Probash scheme by paying their instalments. However, many expatriates were not able to deposit money into their Sonali Bank accounts as they do not have a dual currency (dollar-taka) international card.
In a meeting with Sonali Bank officials on Sunday, Finance Division officials gave instructions to solve this problem as soon as possible.
Besides, the Finance Division has also directed the Sonali Bank to take necessary measures so that the instalments of those working in the private sector or self-employed people can be automatically deposited in the Sonali Bank account every month from the pensioners' bank accounts.
An official who was present at the meeting told The Business Standard that domestic citizens are also facing problems in paying instalments to Sonali Bank from other bank accounts.
The official said private employees or self-employed persons have accounts in banks but their monthly instalment amount is not being automatically deducted from their accounts and deposited in the pension accounts with Sonali Bank as planned. Instructions have been given to Sonali Bank to solve this problem.
Finance department officials told The Business Standard that one of the main conditions of the UPS is that the enrollers should have regular incomes. But housewives who have no income but can arrange money through self-employment will be able to enrol in the Shurokkha scheme, providing the required employment information.
However, those who will register in the Somota scheme as very poor and the UPS authority will verify their information before including them in the scheme. Half of the instalments (Tk500) will be paid by the government for the participants in this scheme. Applications will be vetted to prevent the wastage of public funds so that the genuinely ultra-poor get the benefit.
Finance Division officials said many people, who have already registered on upension.gov.bd website, are not depositing their instalments. Only those who deposited are included in the pension schemes.
A total of 1,700 citizens joined UPS on Thursday, after the inauguration. On Friday, 3,000 and on Saturday 1,700 citizens joined by paying monthly instalments.
Another Finance Division official said hundreds of phone calls are coming to the concerned officials from the country and abroad every day regarding the universal pension scheme.
An initiative has been taken to set up a help desk from the finance division for the convenience of those interested. Several employees are being trained to manage the help desk, he added.