Saturday, April 20, 2024
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Retirement age for municipal workers increases

Parliament has passed the Local Government (Amendment) Bill 2023 yesterday.

The Bill had sought to amend the Local Government Act 1972, to increase the retirement age of officers appointed to municipal councils from 55 years to 60 years – to align to Government policy and to the retirement age of civil servants.

Speaking on his motion, the Attorney-General Siromi Turaga said the amendment to the Act sought to remove the requirement of the calculating interest on overdue rates using the Compound Interest Method.

He said it also removes the interest rates as this would be prescribed by regulation moving forward – the amendment will enable the Ministry of Local Government to enact regulations in relation to overdue rates.

The Ministry intents to change the method of calculating interest to simple interest methods, as this will reduce the burden of taxpayers – the current interest rate of 11 per cent will also be reduced.

Contributing to the motion, Opposition MP Premila Kumar said the amendment in 2009, was made to the Local Government Act to establish compulsory retirement age for municipal council staff.

Kumar said this was introduced based on a High Court ruling in favour of a council employee, because the Local Government Act did not specify the retirement age.

She said hence, the Ministry of Local Government decided to introduce 60 years to be the compulsory retirement age across the board – Later, it was changed to 55 years to bring uniformity with the national government policy, and that was mainly the reason.

Minister for Local Government Maciu Nalumisa said this amendment Bill represented not just a change in law but a transformation in the lives of Fijian driven by unwavering commitment, empathy and the desire to progress.

Nalumisa said they are not about words on paper; they are about the hopes and dreams of our fellow citizens, hard-working 1,184 municipal council employees and 44,749 diligent ratepayers who keep our communities thriving.

He said the amendment to the retirement age is not just a mere adjustment of numbers – It is about fairness, it is the unity that transcends disparities and enforce the sense of togetherness.

Meanwhile, all 55 Members of Parliament, agreed to the motion.

The amended legislation will come into force on a date appointed by the Attorney-General as the Minister by notice, in the form of a Gazette.

Ilaitia Ravuwai
Ilaitia Ravuwai
Journalist | news@fijilive.com

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