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Last Updated: Tuesday, 30 May 2006, 10:48 GMT 11:48 UK
Niger to increase retirement age
By Idy Baraou
BBC News, Niamey

Hospital tent
The early retirement was blamed for lowering health standards
Niger plans to raise the retirement age to 60 years to stem the loss of experienced workers, six years after making it mandatory to retire at 55.

The law has been unpopular with those forced to retire and was blamed for lowering standards in health and education sectors.

The policy reversal is also linked to financial support from the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund.

Niger is the world's poorest country where life expectancy is 44 years.

It has one of the highest infant mortality rates in the world, with more than 25% of children dying before their fifth birthday.

Government spokesperson Ben Omar Mohamed says this legal reform is also intended to end to the sufferings of thousands of families whose breadwinners have been forced to retire.

Their income level drops drastically, as pensioners only receive their payments every three months.

In 2000, Niger adopted a bill that forced civil servants and other workers to retire at the age of 55 years or when they have fulfilled 30 years of service to the nation.

At least 1,000 people retire every year in Niger, a country which has only 76,000 formal sector workers in a population of 12.9m.

The new bill needs to get parliament's approval and the signature of the president before it comes into force.



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