Govt spends $500m on pensioners

HARARE - Treasury spent $477,6 million on pensions last year after paying a total of over 4,5 million retired government workers, a Cabinet minister has said.

Finance minister Patrick Chinamasa last week told Parliament that Treasury disbursed a monthly sum of $39,8 million the whole of 2015 to keep up with pension payments.

“In January 377 228 pensioners received their pay-outs while 396 298 were paid in February with 396 298 paid in March. April saw government pay 388 162 pensioners as 380 844 were paid in May.

“In June a total of 382 865 retired government workers were paid while July saw 381 260 employees being paid. 381 934 were paid in August with 389 174 receiving their pay-outs in September. The last quarter of 2015 saw 381 428, 389 174 and 377 342 disbursed for October, November and December respectively,” Chinamasa said.

Chinamasa was responding to Bulawayo South MP Eddie Cross, who had asked about government expenditure on pension pay-outs.

Government is presently conducting an audit of the pension payroll, through the instrument of Life Certificates, administered by the Public Service ministry.

Pensioners have also been failing to receive their pay-outs following the National Social Security Authority (Nssa)’s move to de-register them for failing to submit life certificates.

This comes after the authority issued several warnings since October last year urging pensioners to submit a Nssa Life Certificate together with a photocopy of their national identity card.

To date, there are some who are yet to comply with the directive being implemented as part of government’s efforts to rid itself of ghost workers.

Periodically, Nssa faces challenges with pensioners’ non-compliance issues that result in the suspension of their pay-outs.

Most pension funds require pensioners, particularly those retired, to periodically complete and return a certificate confirming that they are still alive.

Meanwhile, government has been staggering pension and civil service pay dates in light of biting cash shortages.

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