Felex Share Senior Reporter
The National Social Security Authority (NSSA) will — with effect from October 1 — increase monthly pension payouts from $60 to $80 per month, while the $100 margin is expected to be achieved beginning next year.
Public Service, Labour and Social Services Minister Prisca Mupfumira yesterday said the increment would be effected after completion of the biometric registration of pensioners.
The programme, she said, had to date captured nearly 153 000 beneficiaries.
“From October 1, pension payouts will be increased by about 30 percent, which will bring it to $80,” Minister Mupfumira said.
“Our objective as Government is to have a liveable pension and to achieve that, NSSA is having an actuarial evaluation and biometric registration programme.
“We expect them to have a clean database by September and the increment will be effected.
“After having a final position on the actuarial evaluation, we anticipate that by January 1, 2018 it will be raised to $100, but beginning October its definite there will be an increase. NSSA has presented that to the Ministry and we have consented.”
NSSA payouts are pegged at $60 per month, an amount pensioners who live outside cities and towns exhaust on bus fare and related travel expenses to withdraw the funds from banks.
Minister Mupfumira said biometric vetting for pensioners would ensure benefits were paid to deserving beneficiaries.
Biometric registration involves capturing of one’s unique physical attributes such as fingerprints, DNA, iris and retina pattern.
She said NSSA had made significant progress on the new system.
“As at July 7, they had had registered 152 862 beneficiaries against an estimated target of 164 200,” Minister Mupfumira said. “We want to know if the people we are paying out are alive.
“Gone are the days when people would withdraw benefits of people who passed on long back. The system is being tightened and we expect that will be done by September. We have an outreach programme and teams are moving out registering deserving beneficiaries. It is only after that that increments will be effected.”
Minister Mupfumira said a number of options to make it easier for pensioners to access their money, including use of the National Building Society and mobile platforms, were being explored.
“They have to be innovative and also embrace use mobile banking and technology to pay pensions,” she said. “Payment of benefits should be done at pensioners’ convenience and reasonable transaction costs.
“These innovative ways will remove the need for pensioners to travel long distances, at great cost, to collect their pensions.”
Minister Mupfumira said NSSA was following up on all investments the authority made under the guidance of former general manager, James Matiza.
Mr Matiza and four other executives – Shadreck Vera (investments), Patrick Mapani (finance), Tendai Mafunda (corporate services) and Bright Chidyagwai (ICT) – made questionable investments and were fired last year for looting and mismanaging the pension institution.
NSSA was established through an Act of Parliament to facilitate a social security scheme for all employees on retirement.
It collects monthly employee contributions and is supposed to invest the money on the equity and money markets, and real estate to be able to pay contributors decent pensions.
There have been widespread calls for NSSA to increase its pension payouts, which have been considered to be too low by the beneficiaries.
But analysts have always warned of the need to balance between an increase in pension payouts and ensuring the continuation of the pension scheme, which risks collapse if the payouts become unsustainably high.