Experts have advised the government not to rush the introduction of a universal pension scheme in the country.
They said it will be difficult for the government to implement initiatives that involve financial matters for people of all walks of life in the last year of their tenure.
During the pre-budget discussion on universal pension and fair tax policy at the National Press Club on Wednesday (1 June) arranged by COAST Foundation, experts said that everyone's opinion should be considered before introducing a universal pension scheme.
Palli Karma Sahayak Foundation (PKSF) Chairman Dr Quazi Kholiquzzaman Ahmad said, "We want it (pension scheme) to be quick but beautiful. Let there be a definite time within which the scheme will be implemented. In the meantime, whatever needs to be done should be done on the basis of everyone's advice."
He urged the government to ensure the universality of the act. "Those who contribute between the ages of 18 and 50 will receive a pension, but we also need to think about how to cover those who are unable to do so."
Emphasising pension management, he said accountability must be ensured once it starts. "The scheme should be enacted in such a way that another PK Haldar is not made," he added.
The speakers also said the process of enacting such an act needs to start with a holistic approach to make the universal pension system a reality for all and increase the number of taxpayers.
Former chairman of the National Board of Revenue (NBR) Mohammad Abdul Majid noted that not considering every stakeholder's opinion before enacting universal pension scheme can create problems.
He also advised the government to start the process in the first year of their new term should they get reelected.
"We need to increase the tax net but we have to ensure that the citizens get services through taxes because in the developed world citizens pay taxes, and the state gives them services. However, here we remain unsure if we will get the service after paying tax," said the former NBR chief.
Local government expert Dr Tofail Ahmed demanded pensions for those in their 60s who have been paying taxes for the past 10 years.
"If there is a guarantee of getting a pension, the tax base of the country will be strong. A pension account can be opened automatically in the name of each taxpayer And a portion paid by the taxpayer will be credited there," he added.
Dr Tofail Ahmed added that universal pension is a complex process hence a roadmap should be made in at least five years after deciding on certain steps.