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Inclusivity vital for pension policy formulation

21 Sep 2021 at 05:16hrs | Views
VENDORS Initiative for Social and Economic Transformation (Viset) takes note of the disclosure of diminished contributions by the National Social Security Authority (NSSA) deputy director Tambudzai Jongwe in a weekly newspaper.

According to Jongwe, 1,8 million contributions to the social security scheme have been lost, largely due to the fact that these companies are either in liquidation, have retrenched or have closed shop. This would mean that these former employees are more likely than not seeking financial refuge in the informal sector. By NSSA's own admission, over 76% of people are in the informal sector, controlling over 60% of the Zimbabwean economy.

It is heartening to hear that NSSA in partnership with the International Labour Organisation (ILO) is working on technical modalities so that they can cover  over 5,7 million people in the informal sector by the first quarter of 2022. While we welcome this long overdue move, we are cautiously awaiting to see how the process will be undertaken as we are of the view that consultation with the informal economy representative organisations must precede all other efforts in order to ensure inclusivity and buy-in from the sector.

Part of the issues of concern which we will be keeping an eye on is that in its current format NSSA requires one to have been a contributor for 40 years, yet we all know this is impractical in today's day and age. Besides, some of the people in the informal economy are former employees who were retrenched, having contributed to NSSA for a many years. The benefit threshold should also be urgently revised, for at an estimated US$35, it cannot even cover the bare monthly essentials, without factoring costs such as medical care. It is our belief that the benefits should be tied to the cost of living estimates in order for them to benefit its recipients.

We believe that there is need for a wholesale revamp of the social security if it is to be relevant to the current economic times and that there must be widespread consultation with all stakeholders particularly people living with disability who have been left out of social security schemes in the past, yet they constitute over 15% of the nation's population.

Viset commits itself to supporting policy initiatives that are designed with the input and inclusion of all stakeholders, which seek to uplift the lives of people in the informal economy and the restoration of their dignity. Gone should be the days where pensioners continued working because they could not draw any meaningful benefit from pension schemes in old age.

Source - NewsDay Zimbabwe
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