RETIREMENT PREPAREDNESS OF PUBLIC SECTOR EMPLOYEES IN CAMEROON: THE CASE OF CIVIL SERVANTS IN THE BUEA MUNICIPALITY
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Many employees often approach retirement with mixed feelings as they exit service. To many civil servants, it represents a transition from the known to the unknown. After retirement, income shrinks and financial expectations become less visible.
This is because policies are not well implemented to the latter, leaving retirees’ lives hanging on the balance in their old age. Management of life after retirement entails planning for the unpredictable and unavoidable new lifestyle when one withdraws from active service. Thus, this study aimed at assessing the retirement preparedness of public sector employees in the Buea Municipality.
Specifically, the study sought to assess the state of preparedness for retirement base on individual knowledge, attitude, behavior, and perception concerning retirement preparedness; to find out retirement preparedness of civil servants in the Buea Municipality regarding the following dimensions: financial security, health, lifestyle and housing and finally, to identify the various challenges that civil servants face in their quest to retire. Using a random sampling method, with a study population of 449 civil servants.
Questionnaires were used for data collection and the data were analyzed using descriptive statistics which included frequency tables, pie and bar charts, chi-square (cross tab) with the help of SPSS. The findings reveals that 54% of the civil servants in the Buea Municipality are knowledgeable about financial preparation for retirement. 54.7% perceived their life in the near future as good and 42% are ready to retire when the time comes.
The findings also show that about 58.4% of civil servants in the Buea Municipality are not financially secured for their future in retirement. 70.8% have not prepared an estimation for their post-retirement and 55.9% are renting and do not own a house.
Finally, the study found out that inadequate financial preparation, lack of proper accommodation, limited knowledge on financial security, bureaucratic of the retirement process, difficulty adjustment to retirement, trouble finding things to do during retirement are some of the key challenges faced by public sector employees in the course of retirement preparation.
The study recommended amongst others that retirement planning training be undertaken often to educate the employees on the different criteria and dimensions of retirement preparedness. The study also recommends that employees should develop the habit of saving and investing in other income-generating activities to guarantee financial sustainability upon retirement.
Keywords; Retirement, Retirement Preparedness, Civil servant, Financial Security
CHAPTER ONE INTRODUCTION
1.1. Background to the study
Retirement generally refers to the act of leaving a position of employment upon reaching a particular stipulated age or due to other specified reasons (Atchley, 1998). According to the researcher, it is one of the main transitions in life that symbolizes the individual leaving one part of a significant activity and entering into a new period in life.
Usually, this transition often affects many life domains and is often accompanied by a decline in life satisfaction, self-evaluation, and quality of life (Lusardi & Mitchell, 2011; Oyuke, 2009) cited in (Nelson & John, 2016). Growing old is not easy and encompasses numerous life deviations which demand multiple adjustments, requiring endurance, ability and flexibility. The loss of work through retirement is one of the fundamental changes for individual ages. For many, this is the first symbol of the effect of ageing (Sayed & Refaat, 2016).
The concept of retirement refers to diverse things to different people. While some individuals perceive it positively and await it with happiness, others have negative views about retirement as they see that stage of life with boredom, economic suffering, ill health and death. And consequently, such people experience a sense of loneliness and loss of status. Retirement is a fixed end which every worker must anticipate, whether in the public sector or in the private sector (Onoyas, 2013).
According to Bowlby (2007), for some, retirement means complete withdrawal from the labour force, while for others it entails remaining partly or even fully active in the labour market. In the opinion of Maestas (2004), a person is only considered retired when he/she reports him/herself not working for pay; and pronounces himself as retired which is a combination of both subjective and objective information.
This shows that the individual has no intention to work after he/she has stopped working and he/she is financially capable of supporting himself to live until the rest of his life. Meanwhile, MacBean (2009), viewed retirement as a state (with no connection to the labour force or to a life-long occupation), or it could be considered to be a process of gradually reducing labour force activity cited in (Sayed & Refaat, 2016).
Most people retire for various reasons. A prime consideration is financial resources in the retirement years; a person may choose early retirement if private investments and pension provide adequate life- long economic well-being. Lower-salaried workers will work past age 65 due to inadequate savings and low pension benefits.
Yet, others retire early because of job termination due to business downsizing and early buyouts. Many others retire because of their interest in various activities such as spending more time with family and pursuing individual lifestyles. Some withdraw merely because they think they are “supposed to” at age 60.
Finally, some retire to assume greater family caretaking responsibilities for frail parents, spouse, and adult children, or other relatives (Watson, 2010) cited in (Asamoah, 2012).
The concept of retirement preparedness is complex. It differs considerably depending upon many factors, including income, generational wealth, education, and personal expectations. It assumes that an individual’s or household’s income during retirement will be sufficient enough to cover necessary living expenses and maintain the same standard of living enjoyed before retirement (Commerce, 2017).
Living standards of people decrease at an older age, it also reduces economic opportunities and deteriorating health status, increase vulnerability to poverty as people age. Such conditions vary greatly, however, across contexts and groups of older persons. Livelihood strategies tend to differ accordingly.
In developed economies, pensions are the primary sources of income and protection in old age, whereas, in developing countries, only a few older retiree have access to pensions and must, therefore, rely on other sources of income (HelpAge International 2016; ILO 2014, (Dugarova, 2018).
As people reduce their working hours or stop working because of retirement options, health issues or family responsibilities, reliance on pensions alone in old age is usually not sufficient to meet basic needs, particularly in developing countries where the benefits that older persons receive are very low or non-existent (Dugarova, ibid).
Actually, 80 per cent of the world’s population is not sufficiently protected in old age against health, disability and income risks (UN, 2007). This means that in developing countries alone about 342 million older persons currently lack adequate income security. That number will rise by 1.2 billion in 2050 if the coverage of current policies put in place to provide old-age income security is not expanded (UN, ibid).
According to Enchas, Malim, & Banchit (2015), retirement preparation refers to a process of planning and taking actions such as having knowledge on the benefits of a financial product and then invests on them, with the purpose to ensure that an appropriate income is received at the retirement age based on the goals that are set by an individual. These include estimating expenses, managing assets and identifying sources of income.
In the opinion of Asamoah (2012), retirement preparedness includes planning for financial security, health maintenance, social network, decent accommodation and meaningful activities. Retirement planning is a long-term process which involves the following; health, pension, social security, life and health insurance, financial planning and dealing with the emotions relating to retirement (UN, 2005).
However, studies have confirmed that more than 70 per cent of workers fail to adjust properly towards retirement (Robinso, 1985; Ruhm, 1990; Ross & Wills, 2009). This lack of adjustment is evident in many areas including financial planning, accommodation, leisure planning and even the thought of when they were going to retire.
The fact is that most workers fail to adequately adjust to the retirement process. Besides that, individuals who are too reliant upon the governments’ plans on their retirement, has impact on their readiness to prepare for the retirement on their own (Yakooboski & Jennifer, 1997). For example, a study carried out in Malaysia shows that the awareness of retirement planning is a serious concern among Malaysians as they depend solely on the government to cater for their retirement needs (Ebrima, Isa, & Ali, 2012).
Similarly, a report done by AEGON retirement readiness 2013 questioned respondents across 12 countries in Europe, North America and Asia. The survey measured retirement preparedness on six key factors to include: 1) personal responsibility, 2) level of awareness, 3) financial capability/understanding, 4) retirement planning, 5) financial preparedness, and 6) income replacement. At the end, the survey revealed global lack of retirement readiness among the respondents who were employees from the three countries.
Pensions are regular incomes retirees receive to compensate for loss of earnings. This income is paid to ensure a life against poverty. Old age pensions began in Germany and gradually expanded to other parts of the world.
The developing countries of Africa institutionalized social security pension schemes after 1960. Before the development of the pension schemes, the elderly relied on informal social protection mechanism.
The main objectives of old age pensions is universal coverage for all persons, compulsory affiliation to pension schemes by all employers and employees, provision of income benefits to all retirees on voluntary and involuntary retirement, and protection against income poverty during old age, disability or death of a wage earner for all members of their families (Bongka, 2010).
In many countries where pension systems are not in place or fail to provide an adequate income, including several in sub-Saharan Africa and in Asia, older persons are more likely to live in poverty than people at younger ages. At the global level, nearly half of all people who have reached legal pensionable ages do not have a pension, and for many of those who do receive a pension, the levels of support may be inadequate (UN, 2015). Today, most retirees are poor, needy and deprived, and are dependent on the insufficient pension scheme which they often struggle every month to draw (Konyim, 2011) cited in (Asamoah, 2012).
In Gambia, the Pension Act was amended in 1950. Like many other countries, it have an agency called the Civil Service Pension Scheme (CSPS), which is the main system that covers civil servants. The statutory retirement age for civil servants is 60 years or 10 years of service to be eligible for a benefit (HTSPE LTD; CALLUND CONSULTING LTD, 2013).
This is closely related to what is available in some other African countries like Nigeria, Ghana and Botswana, (“A Brief History”, 2013). The retirement age for civil servants in Nigeria is 60 years or 35 years of unbroken active service. Judges of high courts and professors do not have the same policy. Their retirement age for professors and judges is 70 years. Age is said to imply expertise and wealth of experience in these sectors, hence, the extended working years of these workers (Garba & Mamman, 2014).
The obligatory retirement age in Ghana is 60 years with at least 15 years of service to be pensionable. However, people working under stringent conditions-like miners and steel employees, might retire at the age of 55 and still be able to collect their full entitlements (IOPS Country Profile, 2011).
The most current Public Service Act in Botswana is that of 2008, which became fully operational on May 2010. It stipulates that the compulsory retirement age is 60 years, while teachers are allowed to retire at the age of 65 (Directorate of Public Service Management, 2010).
Cameroon as a nation hired its civil servants through competitive, country-wide examinations (“Concours”). Civil servants are classified under four sub-categories: A for senior staff; B for middle staff; C for executives; and D for subordinates with a workforce of approximately two hundred and fifty thousand (250,000) (IMF, 2014). Out of this total number of civil servants, a good total of civil servants retire on a yearly basis.
Just like many other African countries, exiting from the public service can happen through dismissal, revocation, retirement, death, or resignation. A decree of 1974 set the retirement age in the non-uniformed civil service at 50 years for sub-categories C-D and 1-6, and 55 years for sub-categories A-B and 7-12. Several adjustments have occurred since, setting different thresholds for specific sectors.
As a result, retirement age is much higher for judges and academics (60-65 years) and teachers (55-60 years). Since 2012, in the uniformed service, the retirement age varies between 48 years (soldier) and 60 years (colonel).
This makes retirement planning an essential aspect given that at the age of retirement, the individual may not be able to do anything worthwhile since his productive age has been used up while serving the government (IMF, ibid).
Cameroon like many other less developed countries has a pension scheme which covers public service workers and state agents. Social security started in the Republic of Cameroon on the 9th of February 1946 with the introduction of family allowances provided by the Expatriates Family Allowances Fund, for French citizens employed in private companies.
Then in 1969, a pension insurance scheme was set up, providing benefits for old age, invalidity and death with effect from 1st July 1974 (MINAT, 2007) cited in (Bongka, 2010). When civil servants attain the statutory age of retirement, they habitually bribe their way into remaining in service. According to the report, one thousand teachers who had reached the retirement age and were still in service were recently sacked from the civil service in the country (Garba & Mamman, 2014).
However, it is a common phenomenon where many people who should retire find their way back into the Public Service. This can be either through age falsification or contract, and this has a lot of implications for creating new employment for the younger population as older people get recycled leaving very little space for new jobs to be built. While it needs to be determined why this takes place,
the development is suggestive of some slowness or the fear in the mind of the average employees of transiting into retirement. At the same time, life expectancy at birth in Cameroon is about 54 years. In other words, an average Cameroonian either dies at 54 or is ill at 54 and all of this is associated with the retirement syndrome.
1.2. Statement of the Problem
With over 250, 000 workers, the public sector is the highest employer in Cameroon (Owona, 2016). But increasingly, many are arguing that the public service is a budgetary black hole and an epicenter of inefficiency in service delivery, inertia and corruption in the Cameroon economy (Atangana, 2016). In 2017, the Cameroonian State spent close to FCFA 1,000 billion in salaries for civil servants, representing a quarter of a total budget of FCFA 4,373.8 billion and most of the ministries were indexed by the Anti-Corruption Commission for their high levels of corruption and poor governance practices (Kamanda, 2016).
Some have opined that the inefficiencies and inertia observed in the public sector can be attributed to a bloated staff consisting of a significant proportion of civil servant who manifestly have attained the retirement age but have blatantly refuse to go on retirement or have been maintained by presidential derogation (Business in Cameroon, 2017). This “cam-no-go” syndrome among civil servants does not only strain the state budget but systematically contribute to the high level of unemployment among young graduates (Business in Cameroon, 2017).
Despite a Prime Ministerial Circulaire N° 004/CAB/PM of 12 November 2015, inviting all civil servants who have attained the retirement age to leave office, a substantial proportion of this officially retired staffs are still clinging on to their jobs (Government of Cameroon, 2015); (Atangana, 2016)). Instead, some public service workers syndicates are clamoring for an increase in the retirement age from 50 to 70 years (Kamanda, 2016).
In an effort to understand this widespread refusal of civil servant to go on retirement, several plausible arguments have been advanced. However, very few empirical studies have looked at the phenomenon from the standpoint of retirement preparedness of these public sector workers. This social fact will sufficiently be illuminated if informed answers are provided to salient interrogations related to civil servants financial, health, lifestyle and housing preparedness prior to retirement, individual’s knowledge, attitudes, behaviours, and perceptions towards retirement and the likely challenges they face on retirement. This study is an attempt in that direction with reference to civil servants in the Buea Municipality.
1.3 Objectives of the Study
1.3.1 Main Objectives
Generally, this study aims to assess retirement preparedness of public sector employees in the Buea Municipality in Cameroon.
1.3.2 Specific Objectives
Specifically, this research seeks to;
- Assess the state of preparedness for retirement base on individual knowledge, attitude, behaviour, and perception concerning retirement
- To find out retirement preparedness of civil servants in the Buea Municipality regarding the following dimensions: financial security, health, lifestyle and
- Identify challenges civil servants face in their quest to
1.4 Research Questions
The following research questions guide this study:
1.4.1 Main Research Question
What are the causes/reasons for the absence of retirement preparedness of civil servants in the Buea Municipality?
1.4.2 Specific Research Questions
- What is the state of preparedness for retirement base on individual knowledge, attitude, behaviour, and perception concerning retirement preparedness?
- How prepared are the civil servants in the Buea Municipality regarding the following dimensions: financial security, health, lifestyle and housing?
- What are the challenges that confront civil servants in the Buea Municipality in their quest to prepare towards retirement?
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