THE government has failed to uphold its promise to pensioners made last year by former Public Service and Labour minister Prisca Mupfumira, who pledged that the government would raise pensioners’ stipends from $60 to $100 and then to $150.
BY VENERANDA LANGA
The issue was raised again in the National Assembly on Wednesday by Mkoba MP Amos Chibaya (MDC-T) to current Labour minister Petronella Kagonye when he asked her to explain why pensioners were still getting less than the promised $100.
“Pensioners’ amounts are worked and determined by actuarial scientists who are experts in that field, and they come up with the minimum amount that should be given to the pensioners in line with their monthly contributions at the time when they were still working,” Kagonye replied.
“Previously, the pensioners’ salaries were increased from $60 to $80 per month. These amounts are reviewed periodically, considering the state of the economy. Currently, they are receiving $80 per month,” she said.
Kagonye’s response also coincided with a National Social Security Authority (NSSA) statement this week pertaining to pensions, where they claimed that the minimum retirement pension was favourable compared to what the industry was currently offering.
“NSSA boasts of a proud record of consistently paying pensions on time every month, and the authority also conducts periodic reviews in a bid to pay a livable pension to beneficiaries. The last review was on October 1 2017 when the minimum retirement pension monthly pay-out was increased by 33,3% from $60 to $80.
“In addition, the authority for the first time paid a 13th cheque to its pensioners in December 2017. Monthly contributions to NSSA are pegged equally at 3,5% for employee and employer, with the maximum pensionable income set at $700. This means the maximum amount an individual can pay to NSSA is currently $24,50 per month,” the NSSA statement read.
Kagonye was also asked by Binga North MP Prince Dubeko Sibanda (MDC-T) to explain the escalating problem of street children that are being abused and who beg for alms at traffic light intersections on the streets.
Kagonye told Parliament that a programme called “Take them off the streets” would soon be launched by her ministry to deal with the problem.
“The unfortunate thing is that all the efforts that were being done to take them off the streets have not been enough to keep them in homes or reconcile them with their families. So right now, we are going to launch a programme called ‘Take them off the streets’. On that programme, we are trying to come up with ways that are acceptable to the children themselves that will actually assist them to be integrated into society,” she said.