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More on ‘Denial of Rights of SL Pensioners Abroad’

By Displaced Sri Lankan Pensioner

The article ‘Denial of Rights of SL Pensioners Abroad – New Payment Procedures’ posted by transCurrents on October 16, 2009 and linked in TamilWeek 18-24 October 2009 and www.infolanka.com/news/ October 17 has drawn the attention of fellow pensioners both in and outside Sri Lanka. Their concern too is not only in regard to the violation of the fundamental rights of SL government pensioners but the collective punishment given to all pensioners for the misappropriation by few unscrupulous persons and the failure of the authorities to prevent it under the present payment system.

Since the receiver of the pension on behalf of the pensioner is a recognised bank, as is likely to be the usual case, the bank should know whether the pensioner is dead or alive. The banks in Sri Lanka do not operate outside the laws of the country and rules set by the Central Bank. They should check whether the signature of the pensioner in the Pension Receipt Form requesting the bank to credit his/her pension to the specified account is genuine or not by comparing with the signature of the account holder. Thus, there should not be any difficulty in preventing someone else receiving the pension of a dead pensioner.

According to the Pension Department’s website, ‘a special unit has been opened in view of the payment of pensions through the banks’. The stated objective is “to expedite bank activities and make the payment properly by opening this unit. This unit has been established under the supervision of the chief accountant of the pension department. Four officers are working in this unit at present”. It is to be noted the expressions here and elsewhere quoted here are in the language of the department.

The listed tasks of the Foreign Pensions division include

(i) “Sending of roll forms to the pensioners after receiving request from them for the transfer;

(ii) Calling for the pension files from the divisional secretarial for this purpose;

iii) Preparing the transfer orders and sending them to the relevant authorities;

(iv) Sending of pension department circulars to high commission and crown agents;

(v) Restoration of full pensions;

(vi) Preparing the arrears of the pensioners;

(vii) Rectifying pension anomalies of pensioners;

(viii) Sending of statistics to high commissioners and crown agents if needed;

(ix) Forwarding reports to the Ministry of Public Administration & Home affairs if requested;

(x) Providing information to the ministry of foreign affairs if requested; and

(xi) Sending replies to the mail daily received from the high commission offices, crown agents and the pensioners.”

Apparently the aforementioned tasks were performed by the Department even before the circular 16 on new payment procedures was posted on its website www.poensions.gov.lk. Under the ‘News and Events’ section, it is stated that the Pensions Department had trained 350 officers “for upgrading the IT (Information Technology) skills; 250 officers for “e-citizen training”; and 125 officers for “International Computer Driving License*??? These too were accomplished before circular 16/2009 was issued.

The website states, the objectives of displaying Pensioners Data on the internet, inter alia, are “to provide an exposure for the pension payment services, to inform pensioners of the details of their monthly pension; to inform pensioners of the details of their monthly pension; to enable pensioners to keep track of their pension payment process; to enable pensioners to retrieve details of previous pension payments; to obtain a summary of the pension payments made at Divisional Secretariat level, with respect to numbers and amounts; to obtain statistics regarding monthly pension payments; and to be able to update the data-base from the respective Divisional Secretariat itself; to expedite payment of pensions through Banks; to increase the transparency and efficiency of the monthly pension payment process.”

Superficially, there are some striking but in effect misleading features here. No other government department has launched an ambitious eye-catching work programme. In fact no where even among the developed countries a Pension Department expects the pensioners to use the internet to get the information concerning their pensions and the laid down procedures for receiving them each month on a regular basis. As mentioned last week, many Sri Lankan pensioners have no access to a computer and do not know how to use a computer. This is the reality. Importantly, each pensioner should be informed by post of any changes in the method of receiving his or her pension. This is a right of the pensioner, which has been denied by the Department of Pensions. Obviously, the striking statements are not intended to benefit the poor powerless pensioners. If transparency in the payment of pensions is proposed in the public interest, how about revealing the salaries and allowances received by government ministers and top administrative and security officers? What about disclosing in the internet the income taxes paid annually by the residents in Sri Lanka? Are there dodgers only amongst the pensioners?

It was only less than a year ago the Pensions Department called for the registration of government pensioners living abroad. And now this special notice issued last year, despite the aforementioned e-project has been abandoned and new complex procedures are introduced, which require more administrative work. This muddles further a task which could be performed with less cost than required under the new procedures. The “Special Notification to Retired Sri Lankan Government Servants who live abroad” issued last year is in the Appendix to this paper. The practical thing is for the Department to put all the information pertaining to each pensioner in its computer(s) for checking the validity of the monthly payments.

There is an internal audit division to “investigate activities relating to pensions in various departments including the Department of Pensions; ministries; divisional secretariats and all municipal councils, urban councils and Pradeshiya Sabhas by executing internal audit programs”. This division is also required “to furnish responds and back observe accordingly for audit inquires of Auditor General and investigate on nominal and anonymous complaints regarding pensions” Obviously it is in regard to audit, the procedures and the adequacy and ability of the staff need to be reviewed to have adequate control over pension payments.

It is legitimate for a pensioner to have a joint account with his wife/husband or another member of the family if the spouse is dead. He or she has a duty to act in the joint interest of the family. How can the government deny this obligation? If the government had permitted early retirement for whatever reason, why should the physically fit and able pensioners under the usual retirement age working elsewhere be punished? In fact, the early retirement policy was introduced to ease the high unemployment among educated youth. As a result, the country lost many experienced and talented officers. There were also other political reasons for creating vacancies in the government service. The politicisation of the government service that began with the 1972 Constitution caused many administrative problems from the standpoint of honesty and efficiency. How closely has the pension payments been audited annually? If there had been proper audit, any shortcomings revealed in the audit reports could have been corrected promptly. Attention is drawn here to the pension entitlement of Sri Lankan parliamentarians after serving as MPs for just 5 years!

The report in the Daily Mirror of 17 October 2009 titled ‘Pensions of Lankans living overseas to be credited in Lankan banks’ is incorrect and misleading. Obviously, the reporter was unaware of Circular 16 issued by the Director General of Pensions and also misunderstood his statement. On the contrary, under the new scheme Lankan pensioners living overseas can have their pensions credited in foreign currencies in foreign banks of their choice. Regarding the reported saving of about Rs. 1 billion to the government from the implementation of the new payment procedures that require considerable paper work both in Colombo and in the relevant missions abroad, the basis of this estimation is not known. But to many discerning persons, this estimate is improbable unless there is significant rise in the mortality of pensioners living overseas, who are in a state of sudden shock and despair after knowing the new payment scheme. Many are in poor health under medical care because of old age problems such as angina, arthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, hypertension, diabetes, Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease and amnesia.

The October 17th Daily Mirror report said - “According to the present practice, their (expats) pensions are credited to their accounts in the countries where they live. By retaining such in local accounts, a large sum of money could be saved and there are 25 accounts like that already operative.” The Pensions Department circular 16 clearly states that there will be only one special account in Peoples’ Bank Queens Branch, Colombo for the pensioners abroad to have their Sri Lankan pensions deposited in Sri Lanka, if they opt for payment in their motherland in Rupees. The condition (v) with regard to payments through approved special bank account is reproduced again here. “This Department will take action to instruct bank officials regarding recollection of money of expired pensioners or overpayments and making payments to heirs”. The Pension Department has also given itself the legal power to decide on the ‘payments to heirs’. It is obvious many Sri Lankan pensioners abroad will prefer to receive their pensions in their countries of residence and in foreign currencies. The advantage here is they can spend the money according to their present needs.

The forms for opening the special account in Peoples’ Bank Queens Branch, Colombo are reproduced here in ADOBE PDF format. As mentioned in the earlier paper, pensioners who want to fill in the forms are advised to log on to www.pensions.gov.lk and download them.

Appendix:

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Related: Denial of Rights of SL Pensioners Abroad - New Payment Procedures

14 Comments

The Governement and Pensions department are insensitive to the needs of Pensioners. They fail to realise that Pensioners are generally in the old, infirm, handicapped category who are incapable of travelling several miles and hanging around in government departments.

Perhaps because pensioners are a unheard and defenceless segment of the population these bureaucrats get away with type of tyranny.

It is the duty of the Minister in charge, the Government and Opposition to look after the interests of these helpless people.

Posted by: SriLankan | October 24, 2009 12:01 AM

For sometime now - and, particularly during the equally profligate regime of CBK economic “financial advisors” to the Govt have often drawn attention to the question of pensions – which arrives at a substantial portion of Govt Expenditure.The number of pensioners is around 420,000 (Pension Dept figures for 2005).

No denying the fact, the people concerned have given of their best for periods running usually in excess of a quarter of a century each. What is due to them must not be denied. However, it transpires those tasked with the job of balancing the budget have tried various ways of tinkering around this large Govt expenditure - some of it in foreign exchange.

The initial ploy is to find ways of denying this to those living overseas (inside sources say they are referred to even as “tigers” and their supporters. Removing them out of the list, it is obliquely suggested, does little harm?) So now we have this question of Certificates every 3 months to confirm beneficiaries are alive. In other words a new kind of “Still Living” Certificates.

Consider an old, infirm pensioner wobbling to someone in England, Canada and Australia pleading “Sir, can you give me a Certificate confirming I am still alive” The man will be taken as fit for the nuthouse if he asks for this Certificate every 3 months. If this badly kept secret of attempting to reduce Govt expenditure succeeds, the next in line of the attack will be the pensioners within the country.

How many realize all this is due to the work of thieves in the garb of “politicians” and “patriots” running the economy dry with their regular pillaging, failed massive State ventures, inflated arms purchases, tender rackets, regular overseas jaunts via 1st class air tickets and 5 star hotel accommodation for jumbo delegations and the like.

It will not surprise me if another “golden brain” (raththarang moley) within the system suggests “why not go for another IMF loan to meet the pension bill?” The amount worked on an average of Rs.10,000 per pensioner comes to a staggering Rs.4,200 million monthly. This is clearly yet another example we are well within the definition of a Failed State.

ISS

Posted by: Ilaya Seran Senguttuvan | October 24, 2009 09:59 AM

I live abroad AND MY PENSION GOES to my account in Sri Lanka. The Dept. does not have the courtesy to inform me of any changes to my pension or prepare any arrears that are due to me. It is a very sad state. We are old and need the money to buy medication,and coming to sri lANKA is so costly and to hang around the pensiondept. to get the arrears is so frustrating. Adding insult to injury the clerks are so rude. It's as if they are giving us the money out of their pockets.I'm glad the govt. is trying to help the pensioners of Sri Lanka.

dept. to get what is right;

Posted by: chandrika karunaratne | October 24, 2009 02:26 PM

it is sad to see the problems faced by many pensioners.

but sri lankan government must be taking a firm stand after notinh what some 'pensioners' have done as a gratitude. one of the examples is former attorney general siva pasupathy who openly supported tigers. i am sure there are plenty more.

may be pensioners should form their groups as pro- sri lankan and anti-sri lankan pensioners. they shouldnt just ask for money from a government they want to ridicule all the time.

Posted by: Lakenpuit | October 24, 2009 04:36 PM

Parliament Pensioners and Bank Pensioners, some of whom are abroad, are not affected by the new pensions circular, as their pensions are not administered by the Pensions Department.
Parliament pensioners include members of parliament,their private secretaries,coordinating secretaries etc. who were paid/employed by parliament and have served more five years.
Bank pensioners have their own private Pensions Unit.
Public Service pensioners who are still in sri lanka are not required to open a savings account in the Queens Street branch of Peoples Bank to receive their pensions. Only those abroad are required to do so.
This is unequal treatment by the pensions department and the relevant minister apears unaware of same.
This same director of pensions, recently deducted Rs 50 from each pensioner to "build a holiday home for pensioners" it was reported.This was cancelled after protests by pensioners.

Posted by: pensioner | October 24, 2009 07:33 PM

A disturbed Sri Lankan in his comments on the plight of the ‘old, infirm and handicapped’ Sri Lankans posted on 24 October has said, “it is the duty of the minister in charge, the Government and Opposition to look after the interests of these helpless people”.

In the absence of a union or a lobby group, it seems the right issue raised in the article is not receiving the due attention of the parliamentarians. The hapless Sri Lankan pensioners are in urgent need of serenity in their twilight period.

Only those influential fellow Sri Lankans in the motherland are in a position to bring to the notice of the political leaders, the grave inconvenience and injustice to a section of the retired government servants inflicted by the ill-considered changes in Pension Department’s circular 16 posted in its website.

It is also unreasonable to have assumed all government pensioners will know of the harsh changes via the department’s website.

Hope some individuals or groups in Sri Lanka committed to fundamental rights, equality and justice will take up the pension issue with the government and opposition politicians.

Posted by: Lankan | October 27, 2009 12:13 PM

There are two more pensions circulars.1) Pension dates for pensioners broad are to be the same as those locally.December Pension date is 10th.2) Monthly life certificates are to be sent to district secretariatas and not to banks, in future.
All english pensions circulars are full of grammatical errors and signed by the director general of pensions.The latest ones are not clear and confusing because of this.He could have had them vetted by someone in the State Languages Departnment.

Posted by: pensioner | November 19, 2009 10:32 AM

In todays Daily News(19th November.09) is a feature article by Malinda Seneviratne " Are you sure you will never grow old and retire"
Much has been written about the plight of pensioners overseas. We can only hope that sanity will prevail in the Pensions Department and the relevant circular withdrawn. The fact that the original circular was folloed by four addendums in two days is an indication of the confusion that exists in the Department of Pensions. Recently the Director General of Pensions imposed a compulsory levy of Rs.50/month to finance his pet project and later withdrawan. The time has come when we need a clean up of the Pensions Department and a new head competent and humane.

Posted by: Balu Ratneser | November 19, 2009 10:39 AM

THE MORNING INSPECTION

Are you sure you’ll never grow old, never retire?


by Malinda Seneviratne

In the year 1989 I read in one of the Sinhala newspapers a letter to the editor titled ‘kisida mahalu nowana tharunayo’ (Young men who will never grow old). It was a tongue-in-cheek piece by a clearly piqued senior citizen. He was chiding a group of young men who had teased him, calling out to him ‘ey naakiyaa!’ ‘Hey! Old man!’ is a poor translation. The appropriate transliteration would be ‘hey old fart!’

Mr. Balu Ratnesar, 80 years of age, currently domiciled outside Sri Lanka and retired public servant sent me a set of slides with pithy sayings about the elderly, especially the realities of old age, all inscribed on a set of water-colours by Marcel Reynaert. Among them, this: ‘Young people travel in groups, adults travel in pairs and old people walk alone.’

It is true isn’t it, we tend to think that old age happens to other people, don’t we? Sure, we know we get old, but do we dwell too much on being old, do we? Here’s an example.

A few weeks ago I wrote about the issue of access, focusing on flaws in regulation and architecture that make things difficult for those who suffer from all kinds of disabilities, temporary or otherwise. I wrote that we erroneously tend to think of people in crutches or wheelchairs when we hear the word ‘disabled’, pointing out that there should be sensitive in both law and architecture to those who are sick and old. Interestingly, most of the comments received were not from those who are usually seen to be ‘disabled’, but from the elderly. To be honest, this is not something I expected.

Mr. Ratnesar’s old-age issue is not about that kind of access. It is about pensions and the difficulties that pensioners are made to undergo to receive money from the relevant state agencies. His complaint is essentially one of gross insensitivity on the part of officers entrusted to handle pension-related issues.

He has written to the Director of Pensions on numerous occasions, he informs me, regarding what he believes are infringements on his rights to receive and disburse his pensions to relations in Sri Lanka. He refers to a recent circular outlining punitive rules and points out, correctly, the gross injustice of such rules being applied only to retired public servants and not to ex-parliamentarians, pensioners who previously worked in public corporations and banks.

In his letter to the Director, Ratnesar had stated the following: ‘for nearly four years I tried to get your department to pay me my pension entitlement. Nothing happened, nor were any of my letters replied; till I was able to get the Secretary to the President and the Editor of the Island to intervene on my behalf. Within weeks, my file which could not be found for four years surfaced and all my entitlements were paid within a month.

Your average pensioner is not a Balu Ratnesar, able to get people in high places to intervene on his behalf. Even in his case, we must note, took four years to get the matter sorted out. Four years is a long time in an old person’s life. I can’t even begin to imagine the anxieties, sense of helplessness and frustrations that such incompetence and inefficiency on the part of officials can cause a retiree.

The Pensions Department clearly wants to streamline operations, deal with fraud and weed out non-existent pensioners, but as Ratnesar points out they are going about it in a wrong and even insulting manner, especially for pensioners living abroad.

A ‘displaced pensioner’ has outlined some of the key issues in a an article published in the website ‘transcurrents’

“The requirement that a bank account to be opened in a specified branch of a stipulated bank (People’s Bank, Queen’s Branch) and conditions imposed on the right of the pensioner to operate his/her bank account are unduly restrictive, plainly unreasonable and legally questionable. It seems to limit the right of the account holder who is resident abroad to withdraw his/her own money only when in Sri Lanka. It also seems to prohibit the right of the account holder to place a standing order via this account to meet a regular expenditure, or meet expenses in Sri Lanka by issuing cheques while being broad. It also makes it impossible for pensioners, resident abroad to use their pension money from this account to financially help their kith and kin on a regular basis, or make arrangements with the bank to meet their financial obligations within Sri Lanka.”

Underlying all this is the gross ignorance of the fact that pensioners belong to an age segment that is prone to and usually suffer from one or more limiting ailments such as angina, arthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, hypertension, diabetes, Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease and amnesia.

What kind of nation are we if we cannot appreciate and be sensitive to the problems faced by our elders, those who in one way or another brought us to where we are. Of course, we can say that they were responsible for the ‘bad’ as well as the ‘good’, but there is nothing to be gained by painting them all with a dismissive brush, is there? Isn’t there some virtue in helping those who are no longer able to do things for themselves?

I remember the harassment that my father had to undergo to collect his pension immediately after retirement. He was the last Ceylon Civil Service officer to retire, had no savings, and no other form of income. And the older one gets, the more difficult it is to fight boorish officials and bank clerks. The old, typically, give up, because they no longer have the strength to fight such battles to conclusion. This is the key factor that incompetent and inefficient officials count on. They can get away with a lot of things because pensioners don’t have the kind of fight that someone in his/her thirties, say, would have.

There is one thing that such officials should understand. They will hit 55 (or 60 or whatever the retirement age is where they work) someday. They too will be subject to the eternal truth pertaining to birth, decay and death, the jaathi, jaraa, marana. Most of them will be afflicted with one or more of the above-mentioned ailments. They will lose the will to fight. They can very well be subjected to the kind of bullying that some of them currently engage in. It is in their interest, then, to ensure that whatever procedures are formulated, it is done with utmost care and with great sensitivity to the particularities of old-age issues. And respect for the elderly. It is their father and mother, grandfather and grandmother, suffering from angina, arthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, hypertension, diabetes, Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s, amnesia etc etc that they are regulating for. And of course they are regulating for themselves come retirement day.


They too will walk alone. The least they can do for themselves, then, is to make sure the path is not booby-trapped because even the simplest fall can break brittle bones and cause permanent crippling or even death.


Malinda Seneviratne is a freelance writer who can be reac

Posted by: Balu Ratneser | November 19, 2009 11:25 AM

Much has been written in your news media about SF & MR.
The aged & infirm who have not received their monthly help from us overseas as a result of the draconian measures imposed by the Dir. General of Pensions has been forgotten (even by you). Pensions for October & November have not been paid. They( the aged & infirm) have no money to buy food to put on their plate. Think about it.Is the humane consideration or SF & MR more important

Posted by: Balu | November 29, 2009 10:27 AM

Please let me know the email addresses, fax numbers etc. of Sri Lankan Associations of Retired Sri Lankan Government Pensioners in U.K., Canada, U.S.A, France, Switzerland, Australia and other countries.

Do you all know that Retired Sri Lankan Government Pensioners are paid Rs.2,000.00 each month as C.O.L (Cost of Living Allowance) but Tamil pensioners living overseas are not paid this Rs.2,000.00 per month although cost of living has increased in all countries like in Sri Lanka. It is understood that this amount has now been increased to Rs.3,000.00 a month?. Go on keep writing for your dues.

All pensioners living overseas should write to your respective Sri Lankan Embassies and Sri Lankan High Commissions with a request to pay you these Cost of Living Allowance and arrears.GOOD LUCK.

Thanks.
Concerned Retired Sri Lankan Government Pensioner.

Posted by: Anonymous | January 6, 2010 05:11 AM

Pension for December has not been paid. The Consulate merely states pensions will be paid after the 4th. but to date the pension for December 2009 has not been paid nor any indication given as to when it will be paid.
What is the plight of pensioners resident overseas if pensions are not paid at least by the end of the month?
Director General of Pensions nor the Consulate Office is concerned.

Pensioner Resident in Canada.

Posted by: K.Balendra | January 8, 2010 07:51 AM

The December pension of Sri Lanka Pensioners residing abroad have not been paid as yet.Could some organization take up with the authorities about the delay in the payment of the December Pensions.The pensions department should not have been in haste to take over without the preliminaries being in place. Not all overseas pensioners receive dole. Pensioners have to meet their expenses.
Overseas Pensioner.

Posted by: K.Balendra | January 27, 2010 11:00 AM

TO: FAX No.011-94-11-238-1171

P.O.Box 21042
Medicine Hat
Alberta
Canada T1A 8M3
7th April 2011
Mr. Mohan Peiris
Attorney General of Sri Lanka Sri Lanka

FAX No.011-94-11-238-1171

Please see my two pages letter dated 4th April 2011 addressed to H.E. Sri Lankan High Commissioner in Canada faxed herewith.

Every month I send them a signed Pension receipt.
Every month their Bank sends them the original of the cheque which I have signed or a photocopy of it.
When the High Commission does the monthly Bank reconciliation they will see the Bank Statement and the original or photocopy of the cheque I have signed.
Inspite of all the precautions they want a signed LIFE CERTIFICATE once in three months inspite of the fact I have signed the cheque they forgetting the fact a dead person cannot sign a cheque.The monthly signed cheque with my signature is more than enough. A dead person cannot sign a cheque. THE LIFE CERTIFICATE HAS TO BE SIGNED By a
Bank Manager etc.

Please give a ruling and ask the High Commission not to create unnecessary work and give headaches and problems to 80 plus years old pensioner like me who receive about only $55.00 monthly pittance from the Sri Lankan Government.
Hope to hear from you.
Thank you.

Sara Pavan Sgd.
(formerly known as V.T.Saravanapavan)
Total three pages.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------


BY FAX TO: 613-238-8448

P.O.Box 21042
Medicine Hat
Alberta T1A 8M3
4th April 2011
H.E. S.L High Commissioner
Ottawa,
Canada
Pension No: PN/107147 MY W&O.P NO.82187600/AE01

I have always been sending the Life Certificate once in three months as required by you duly attested as required by you.

Flabbergasted to hear from you "We note that you have not submitted your Life Certificate for several months".

Someone is misleading you down the GARDEN PATH. (The Life Certificate would have been given to the Locally Recruited Staff by your Sri Lankan Staff due to pressure of work and possibly they have filed in the wrong file). Presumining that I have "not submitted my Life Certificates -which is impossible-, then they should have called my attention. I hope they maintain a call up diary. My correspondence is always in English.
I contacted the Offices of four Notaries Public which appear on the yellow pages of Medicine Hat. Their charges are $52-50 to $105.00. The Manager of Servus Credit Union Ms.Diane Bonneville's services are FREE and doing a favour and when something is FREE I cannot DEMAND rubber seal or frank should be placed on the Life Certificate.

I would like to know whether an Imam or Hadji or a Brahmin Priest or a Hindu Priest could attest my signature? .
On March 2nd 2011 my wife and I went and met Miss Diane Bonneville Manager of Servus Credit Union to get the Life Certificate. It was certified in the presence of my wife and I requested the Manager to put the rubber stamp to which the Manager said it is not a requirement as the LIFE CERTIFICATE form does not say it requires a rubber stamp. This is a blemish in the form. '

I wish to suggest that your High Commission print a new LIFE CERTIFICATE FORM with the required changes. May I also suggest that the words "in" is removed in the words "Present Address in Abroad" as this is wrong/bad English.

For the second time I requested her (Manager) and sbe said if the High Commission wanted the rubber stamp they would have said it on the form. But she was good enough to place a rubber stamp with her first and last names. She by hand wrote the address: 45A -8th St. NW, Medicine Hat, AB T1A 6N9 and the Date March 2/11.She has no obligation to sign the LIFE CERTIFICATE as it is not part of her duties. As a good natured person she obliged me.Her services were free.
(page 2)

Normally the persons who attest my signature always say I must be getting several hundreds of Dollars each month. I smile and say it is little more than $50.00 each month. One or two of them in the past have said smilingly "What amount of work to get this peanuts of $50.00 plus". For me this $50.00 plus is like bread and margerine.
The monthly pension I get is a little more than $55.00 not even enough to buy groceries as you would know from your living in Ottawa where I know people living there too or even to pay my co-payment for two medicines to stay alive.

I am proud to mention that I took Acting Lessons in Hollywood and I became an Actor and having acted in one Movie (Speaking Parts) and acted in 28 T.V Commercials (Speaking Parts). I preferred T.V Commercials and has been a Screen Actors Guild Member since 1993 and continue to be so.

My personal opinion is that the LIFE CERTIFICATE should be got rid of and only the PENSION RECEIPT FORM should be made necessary as a dead person cannot sign the PENSION RECEIPT FORM. It is a disgrace to ask a witnes for just $55.00.

Asking a Pensioner for a LIFE CERTIFICATE tantamounts to not trusting his signature and while in service I have been trusted to sign Embassy cheques, Sri Lankan Passports and Visas etc.

I have worked in the Sri Lankan Embassies in Rio de Janeiro (Brazil) for over four years and in the Sri Lankan Embassy in Manila (Philippines) for over four years with the local designation as Chancellor and the Overseas Administration Division for two years. Retired after 23 years of Service while in Class I. I am a stickler for rules and regulations however unfair or unreasonable they may be. It looks like that someone has made the mistake.

I would request that this letter be referred to the Sri Lankan Attorney General as to the legality of asking that my LIFE CERTIFICATE for a monthly Pension stipend of about $55.00 a month needs my signature to be attested without being trusted in view of the positions held by me before I retired without any blemish while working for the Sri Lankan Government Service, working at two Sri Lankan Embassies and working for four years in the Navy Head Quarters, Colombo Police for one year, working for two years at the Overseas Administration Division in the Ministry of External Affairs etc.

I am 80 plus years old .
Hope to hear from you and the SriLankan Attorney General.

Thank you.

Sara Pavan
(Formerly known as V.T.Saravanapavan)

Posted by: Sara Pavan | April 8, 2011 05:36 PM

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