Engineers debate amendments to retirement fund

The meeting of the central body of the Jordanian Engineers Association. (Photo: Facebook)
AMMAN — The central body of the Jordanian Engineers Association (JEA) approved in an extraordinary meeting on Saturday some amendments the association said would ensure the continuity of its retirement fund to meet future commitments.اضافة اعلان

The proposed amendments to the pension system took into account the recommendations made by members of the general assembly of the pension fund in a meeting that was held last month.

The central body recommended reconsidering a deduction on the various pension premiums, including a 10 percent levied from all JEA members to bolster pension money, a plan widely known as “Fund Support”. But the central body exempted the heirs of a deceased engineer from the 10 percent charge.

The amendments also included reducing the percentage of the subscription fee for all pension segments, which was suggested to be raised on every pension segment previously. It noted that the proposed percentage for some segments was an intolerable 100-percent hike.

JEA President Ahmad Samara Al-Zoubi said that the mandatory subscription to the pension fund “is not new” to the association. He said the same mandatory fee was levied prior to 1987, and again in 1992–1999.

“It has always been part of the syndicate’s regulations,” he said. He pointed out that the pension fund is mandatory in almost all other professional associations.

Zoubi confirmed that the mandatory subscription to the pension fund is linked to practicing the profession, meaning that any unemployed engineer can defer payments by six months.

As for the 10 percent deducted from the retired engineers, Zoubi said that the decision was taken to ensure the continuity of the pension fund. “Deducting 10 percent now is meant to save the pension fund, and guarantee it’s sustainability for the future generations,” he explained.

“As for investing the pension fund, we have many investments, some generating 4 percent income,” he said. He noted that others included land and real estate that “are left to assist in the future”.

But JEA members rejected the amendments on grounds that the changes will harm the retirement fund, and possibly lead to its dismantling, ultimately affecting engineers and their families.

JEA member Malek Amaireh told Jordan News that the amendments were based on “random” assumptions, which “will definitely affect the future of the association”.

One of the amendments that sparked a controversy among JEA members is a mandatory subscription to the pension fund for all members, including new ones joining the syndicate.

Amaireh said the move will affect the syndicate fund linked to the pension fund “since the unemployed engineers will not be able to subscribe to the pension fund, therefore, they will withdraw from the association affecting the main fund.”

Biomedical Engineer Shadi Al-Said, a JEA member, told Jordan News that he would have preferred “if the syndicate decided to invest in the pension fund, rather than adding a deduction to the retired engineer and raising the suggested subscription rate”. 

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