At the time of the coronavirus epidemic, we must pay special attention to the elderly, and so we must provide greater safety and protection for them. This is why the government has decided to reintroduce the 13th monthly pension.

At the Friday online press conference of the Operational Group responsible for the containment of the coronavirus epidemic, Parliamentary State Secretary of the Ministry of Human Capacities Bence Rétvári said in February 2021, the elderly will receive an extra one quarter of a monthly pension, in 2022 an extra half a month, in 2023 an extra three-quarters of a month, while finally in 2024 elderly persons will receive an extra full monthly pension.

He highlighted that next year the government would spend HUF 70 billion more on pensions, while in 2024 HUF 280 billion more.

He also recalled that in 2008 the government in office at the time had taken the 13th monthly pension away from the elderly which had caused them financial insecurity.

Listing the measures adopted in the interest of protecting the elderly due to the coronavirus epidemic, Mr Rétvári said they had simplified the rules for the issuance and redemption of prescriptions, and had determined a separate time slot for the elderly in supermarkets and food stores. The National Centre for Public Health has reserved a separate toll-free number for informing them about important measures, while local governments are required to provide care for all elderly persons if they have no other option, he continued.

Mr Rétvári also highlighted that, in the interest of the protection of the residents of elderly care homes, the Operational Group had adopted “a number of extra safety measures”, including the tightening of hygiene rules. Two million face masks and 300,000 pairs of gloves will be delivered to elderly care homes in the coming days from the central stocks, he added.

He recalled that in 2010 they had promised the elderly that they would preserve the value of pensions; this is a promise that “we managed to honour, and have even managed to increase the purchasing power of pensions by more than 10 per cent”. Additionally, the government-party politician continued, they have provided pension premiums, pension supplements, ‘Erzsébet’ vouchers and household utility vouchers to the value of some HUF 200 billion for pensioners.

By Mr Rétvári’s account, the preservation of the value of pensions and the extra attention pensioners receive “were not always natural”. In 2008, not only did the government in office at the time take away the 13th monthly pension, but introduced daily hospital fees and visit fees for hospitals and surgeries, imposed an additional burden on pensioners by increasing the rate of VAT, and increased the prices of household utility services fifteen times.

By contrast, the civic governments have reduced the VAT on fundamental foodstuffs and cut household utility charges, he stressed. Also thanks to this, while in 2010 poverty among the elderly was “well above the European Union’s average”, in recent years we have managed to reduce it to below the EU average, the State Secretary said, stressing that we must show our gratitude to the elderly “who built this country”.

(Ministry of Human Capacities/MTI)