Kelera Tuiwainikai on Pension: No Regrets

Fiji is currently faced with the issue of low pension take-up and low member balances. The truth is Fiji National Provident Fund members are now demanding so much more from
25 Apr 2018 10:09
Kelera Tuiwainikai on Pension: No Regrets

Fiji is currently faced with the issue of low pension take-up and low member balances.

The truth is Fiji National Provident Fund members are now demanding so much more from us especially in terms of what they can get out of the Fund in terms of benefits.

Amidst all these demands, there are also grateful members out there.

Such, as this case in Labasa.

Meet Kelera Vukica Tuiwainikai from Kese Village in the Yasawa Islands, who now re­sides in Labasa.

She turns 75 in July but doesn’t look her age. She has aged well, stands tall and is vi­brant woman; her smile captures you and her eyes sparkle with kindness and laughter.

Mrs Tuiwainikai has been a pensioner for more than 10 years and has never regretted her decision to become one.

She worked as a nurse at the Lautoka Hospi­tal until she got married, relocated to Labasa and took up her post as a nursing sister until she retired.

During a forum she stood up and thanked FNPF for taking care of its members and providing a platform where executives and managers can discuss on a more personal level with members.

This is her story:

As Mrs Tuiwainikai approached retirement she had inquired with her colleagues and friends on the best course of action in re­gards to her FNPF funds; she received vari­ous advice.

Two of her closest friends had told her to fully withdraw her funds as FNPF had an un­certain future and it wasn’t safe to leave her money with the Fund.

Her Indo-Fijian colleagues were strongly against this and as they had suggested she opted for pension.

Mrs Tuiwainikai recalls as years went by she heard that her 2 friends who had told her to fully withdraw her FNPF funds had befall­en difficult times:

Friend 1 – She bought a property after fully withdrawing her FNPF funds and later trans­ferred the ownership to her daughter.

After an argument with her daughter, she was told to leave the house so she had no choice but to move to Suva and live with rela­tives going from one house to another.

The daughter later sold the house and she was left without a home to call her own nor the finances to survive on till her passing away.

Friend 2 – Even after fully withdrawing her FNPF funds she later returned to employ­ment until she suffered a stroke.

She is now bedridden as she never recov­ered from the stroke and does not have the means for professional care.

“So you see compared to my two unfortu­nate friends I am quite lucky; had I listened to them I would have probably ended up in the same situation or another ill-fated situa­tion that would have left me destitute,” she said. “I have met former work colleagues who have approached me requesting that I return to work as they are in need of extra hands but, I tell them as you are paid I am also paid but the difference between you and I, I don’t have to work for the money I receive.

“I have done my time in the formal sector and now it is the time for me to relax and en­joy the fruit of my hard work.

“I believe with proper timing, savings and advice we all get to a point where we can live comfortably until we are called to rest.”

Mrs Tuiwainikai knows that the Pension Reform resulted in many pensioners receiv­ing less then what they were initially paid but, as she listened to the Member Forum presentation and the executives’ explana­tions, as unfortunate as the situation was it was inevitable.

“I believe we must live within our means, I am an old woman I do not need much to live a happy and comfortable life.”

Mrs Tuiwainikai would like to encourage the young generation of Fiji to think long and hard.

“For me pension was always the last deci­sion for me in terms of my FNPF funds and it might not be an ideal option for many who are still working but you must think long and hard about your future.

“Nowadays there is no guarantee that the children you took care of will look after you in your old age, so you have to be smart and prepare for a time where you will not have a consistent source of income.”

To conclude her story, Mrs Tuiwainikai be­lieves that it is the responsibility of every member to prepare themselves for retire­ment and consult as widely as possible on the options to save for retirement.

For now: “I will continue to live everyday thankful that I can afford the means to do so comfortably without relying on my kids.”

Her story serves as an inspiration and a testimony that it is possible to be financially secure upon retiring.

As custodians of FNPF members funds; we can do our bit to help create awareness on benefits of pension – and we can always re-tell Mrs Tuiwainikai’s story.

About the Retirement Expo

Approximately 73 per cent of FNPF mem­bers have balances of $10,000 or less.

This statistic has led the Financial Literacy Working Group of the National Financial In­clusion Taskforce to partner with the FNPF, the Reserve Bank of Fiji and the UN’s Pacific Financial Inclusion Programme (PFIP) to create an awareness campaign on the dire need to save for retirement.

The Retirement Expo is currently happen­ing at the FNPF Downtown Boulevard from 9am – 4.30pm and ends on Friday.

Organised by a subcommittee of financial institutions and government ministries, the Expo features 23 exhibitors:

At the expo, the public will be able to seek advice on retirement planning, find out how to start a business, obtain information on the various government grant schemes available and on financial products such as insurance, investments and loans that could help sup­plement FNPF savings.

Source: Fiji National Provident Fund


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