Analysis | Opinion

#Vote2018 – Analysis: TELS, Retirement And Politics

ANALYSIS: Opposition Parties may take it lightly, but the fact remains that more Fiji­ans are able to afford tertiary educa­tion and it is through the Tertiary Educa­tion Loan Scheme. TELS
27 Mar 2018 14:43
#Vote2018 – Analysis: TELS, Retirement And Politics
A tertiary student asks a question during the budget consultation last week in Suva at the Fiji National University. Photo: DEPTFO News

ANALYSIS: Opposition Parties may take it lightly, but the fact remains that more Fiji­ans are able to afford tertiary educa­tion and it is through the Tertiary Educa­tion Loan Scheme.

TELS and National Toppers Scheme were introduced in 2014 by the Bainimarama Government and this has been expounded on by the FijiFirst Government.

2131 students are currently studying at various universities on the Toppers Scheme where the entire cost of their education is borne by Government.

There are 17,385 students studying on TELS. These 17,385 may not have had the opportunity to further their tertiary educa­tion had it not been for TELS.

In 2014, there were 4286 students studying on TELS and that number has more than tripled in the last four years.

Since 2014 there were 8181 students study­ing on TELS and other schemes who have graduated. We are fast moving towards an educated population and that is a reality.

TELS

One of the ways the Bainimarama and Fi­jiFirst Government worked to ensure these graduates get absorbed into the workforce was by reducing the retirement age of civil servants from 60 years to 55 years.

Two Opposition parties- SODELPA and National Federation Party have already started to campaign for the reversal of this and have said if either or both are to form Government, they will put up the retire­ment age to 60 years for civil servants.

This is just one of the rare policies that the two parties have agreed on. If they are to enter a marriage of convenience in order to form the next Government, one can only im­agine the compromises which will be made from both ends.

But, how does this increase in retirement age augur for young graduates? Not too well.

The Opposition argument is that at 55 years of age people are still very active, therefore experienced civil servants need to be retained.

What SODELPA leader Sitiveni Rabuka is not screaming from the rooftops is that when he overthrew Government in 1987, he had gone ahead and arbitrarily reduced the retirement age from 60 to 55, but his motiva­tion at that time was questionable.

So, should a civil servant retire at 55? The majority of our population is below the age of 35.

Those in the 40s and above are a minority. In order to ensure these young graduates are able to secure jobs in the civil service, it is important that civil servants retire at 55. Adding another five years to their retire­ment age will not do our youth any favours.

Edited by Percy Kean

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