TONY JOHN Port Harcourt
The new Rivers State Pension Reform bill 2019, has sailed through legislative proceedings of the House of Assembly and is now awaiting the endorsement of the governor.
This followed after the bill passed through the third reading on the floor of the House.
Before then, a debate had ensued as some legislators called for inclusion of more welfare packages and quick passage of the bill, since it was aimed at addressing the plight of retirees.
Chairman of the Committee on Pensions, Head of Service, and Secretary to the State Government, Benebo Anabraba, said that the bill, when signed into law, would take into cognisance, those retired up to June 2019.
Benebo explained that the bill also addresses the issues bordering on the access of funds by families or those overseeing wills of dead retirees.
Other features of the bill are that it totally repeals the previous pension laws and merged the new as well as old laws governing pensions.
Speaker of the House, Ikuinyi-Owaji Ibani, added that once the bill becomes functional, pension bodies would collapse into one. Hence, there will be only one pension board to oversee all pension matters for retirees.
Ibani said: “There will be a unified pension body and it is going to give succour to pensioners.”
The speaker warned those civil servants, who manipulate their retirement age to desist from it, disclosing that the new law will catch up with them with a heavy penalty.
Similarly, the House also debated on the bill to re-enact Rivers State College of Health Technology and Management bill 2001 and other laws to upgrade the Rivers State College of Health and Management.
Majority Leader, Martin Amaewhule, submitted that the bill is expected to lift the institution to lofty heights and at par with other sister high institutions.
The Speaker (Ibani) described the bill as a milestone, noting that the bill seeks to achieve improved level manpower, strengthen the health sector.
“Upgrading the college is one effort that will benefit generations to come. It will widen the latitude of the college,” Ibani stressed.
Other members, who spoke aligned themselves with the report of the Committee on Education, headed by Dr. Farah Dagogo, that the running and management of the college should be transferred to the Ministry of Education for efficiency.