Staff Reporter

His Holiness the Je Khenpo launched a pension scheme for monks and nuns with a seed fund of Nu 10 million at the Trashichhodzong yesterday.

Under the scheme, a monk will get Nu 7,360 a month as social security deposit when they attain the age of 65 with a minimum track record of 10 years’ service in their respective monastic institutions.

Today, from more than 7,000 registered monks and nuns  across the country, including children and adolescents, 323 are eligible for the pension scheme.

The pension fund is among the several existing welfare schemes such as medical treatment, support during parents’ demise, and peaceful old-age homes adjacent to the hospital or at a monastery that the Central Monastic Body has initiated so far.

According to the pensioners, the pension fund scheme is one of the landmark developments in the monastic body which will not only benefit the retirees but is also an encouragement to the young monks and in sustaining the monastic institutions.

UNICEF through the Joint Sustainable Development Goal Programme supported the Central Monastic Body in developing the social security system, including a financing strategy and an operation guideline to secure the welfare of monks and nuns in Bhutan.

UNICEF Bhutan Representative, Andrea James congratulated the Central Monastic Body on launching the Social Security System for monks and nuns in Bhutan.

“With 46 percent of the monks and nuns in monastic schools between 4-24 years, the social security system would contribute towards reducing the vulnerabilities for monks and nuns including children in monastic institutions to economic hardship and social exclusion,” Andrea James said. “The initiative launched today is an investment to give every child and adolescent in monastic schools, a fair chance in life.”

Secretary of the Monastic Council for Administration and Development Affairs (Leytshog Office), Khenpo Choten Dorji, said, “Our monks and nuns who have dedicated their lives to spiritual practice will now have the security of a pension plan that will provide them with financial support during their retirement years.”

The social security system was launched in the presence of the five Lopons and five secretaries, Dratshang Lhentshog Secretary, UNICEF Representative, dignitaries, members of the clergy, and representatives from government agencies.