Pensioners ministry to function without minister

Ministry's director-general: Ministry will continue to work to improve lives of country's 700,000 elderly citizens.

old people 298.88 (photo credit: Courtesy)
old people 298.88
(photo credit: Courtesy)
The Ministry for Pensioners Affairs will continue working to improve the lives of the country's 700,000 elderly citizens, despite the fact that newly inaugurated Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu has yet to appoint a minister to head the office, Dr. Avi Bitzur, the ministry's director-general, told The Jerusalem Post on Wednesday. "Actually we have the highest minister in the government - the prime minister - now in charge of our office," noted Bitzur, adding that Likud MK Leah Ness will be deputy minister with responsibilities for furthering legislation concerning the elderly. "We will carry on with all the work that we've started doing here," continued Bitzur. "All of us believe that the welfare of the country's elderly population is extremely important." According to Bitzur, the ministry, which was founded following the 2006 election and headed until Wednesday by the leader of the now-defunct Gil Pensioners Party, Rafi Eitan, will have no significant changes to its budget. Eitan was likely to be appointed Netanyahu's adviser on pensioner's affairs, Bitzur said. "It's possible that the prime minister will appoint a minister in the future, but for now we will just continue with the work that we are doing," he said, highlighting the ministry's work in establishing a complaints hot line for the elderly to report abuse and find information on their state benefits, as well as an information center for the country's 250,000 Holocaust survivors. Although it was set up according to legislation following the 2006 election, the ministry only moved into its own office space in October 2007. In a previous interview with the Post, Bitzur said his main aim "is to provide better opportunities for able-bodied individuals in their golden years and to act as a mouthpiece for elderly rights."