HARARE – Government plans to reduce the pensionable age from 60 to 50 years and is also considering increasing pensioners’ monthly allowances from as low as $20 to $150 before year end.
Speaking during a question and answer session in the National Assembly on Wednesday, Social Welfare minister Prisca Mupfumira said government is preparing to bring the proposal before Parliament.
“On the issue of age, this should be looked into holistically and not just at the National Social Security Authority (Nssa)…we should reduce the pensionable age from 60 to 50. We will bring that to Parliament…in documentation that would determine the pensionable age of workers whether it is 50 years or whether it is going to be 60 or 70 years before Parliament for its consideration,” she said.
“At the moment, however, we are working with what is legally in the law,” she said.
Currently, government is conducting an audit of the pension payroll, through the instrument of Life Certificates, administered by the Public Service ministry.
Last year, some pensioners failed to receive their pay-outs following the Nssa’s move to de-register them for failing to submit life certificates.
This comes after the authority issued several warnings since 2015 urging pensioners to submit a Nssa Life Certificate.
Most pensioners are currently getting between $20 and $60 monthly pay-outs.
Mupfumira added that government was aware that the pensioners allowance is meagre and are working on improving it.
“My response is that the current board’s objective is that we should give people a liveable pension. Secondly, we should improve the benefits that we are giving to the people. I am happy to announce that from 1st April, 2017 we started on funeral benefits for members and pensioners.
“Apart from the $300 that was being disbursed as funeral benefit, we are now going to be looking at the provision of a casket, transport and all the requirements. If you already had a policy, $500 is immediately disbursed as cash over and above the $300 that they were being given. It is good enough,” Mupfumira said.
“On the issue of money, I made a statement earlier on that we have to increase to a liveable pension. It is a process and not an overnight event. Nssa has been around for years and the $60 was the figure. There is an actuarial evaluation process which will be through by June that will show us where we will get to.”
She further said that they are going to increase the allowances before end of the year.
“We are doing an evaluation and I am hoping certainly by September, 2017 we should have not less than $100. End of the year, I am saying at least $150. My wish is that we keep on increasing the liveable pension of our pensioners.
“Already, the funeral benefit is functional so we have people’s interests at heart that is why you saw us changing things in all the areas that Nssa has investments. We have been following them up. We do not want people to pay extra in contributions but they must be paid more.
“The National Health Insurance that is being talked about, we want to introduce it with the existing funds, not to have members contributing more. If we manage it properly, we should be able to introduce the National Health Insurance.”