GOVERNMENT'S continuing commitment to ensuring the elderly and severely disadvantaged enjoy a decent quality of life could see the introduction of a social pension benefit and the strengthening of social protection for elderly.
This was expected to take place in the next two to three years according to permanent secretary for Social Welfare Govind Sami.
"This benefit scheme will target those aged over 70 years that live in rural areas, especially fishermen and farmers who do not have Fiji National Provident Fund contributions," he said. Mr Sami made the comments while speaking to participants at the University of the South Pacific's Faculty of Business and Economics Fiji Update 2012 that was held in Nadi last week.
Mr Sami said the Department of Social Welfare was also looking at the current social protection criteria under the family assistance scheme in regards to the types of people being assisted.
"At the moment Social Welfare targets 3 per cent of the population and we are looking at targeting 8-10 per cent after we redefine our parameters.
"In terms of benefit payouts, currently we are paying out anywhere between $60-$110 on a monthly basis to individuals and do not have anything for family units as such. Social Welfare is an individual benefit and we are looking at family or household benefits in the future," he said.
Mr Sami said the Social Welfare Department would continue to work with non-government organisations and partner agencies to strengthen the social protection for vulnerable groups.
The Social Welfare Department pays out benefits to 12,674 individuals in the country.