By Christine Chiromo
The National Social Security Authority’s (NSSA) nearly 300 000 beneficiaries are set to benefit from the set aside $492 million pension fund’s groceries allowance to lessen their burden with access to food in light of Covid-19 induced hardships.
NSSA chief executive Arthur Manase said the allowances to pensioners were among a host of new benefits the fund had mooted, outside the monthly payout, to try and make life bearable for beneficiaries.
“NSSA will disburse a total of $491 838 523 in allowances to its 228 932 beneficiaries and pensioners who have been hard hit by the Covid-19 pandemic.
According to figures provided, this amounts of between $1 500 and $2150 which the beneficiaries will get in addition to the monthly payout. The grocery scheme will be implemented pending finalization of an actual valuation, whose goal is to see by what percentage the current monthly payout can be increased
“Going forward, NSSA will be implementing a self-adjusting mechanism on insurable earnings, which is expected to improve the contributions income, thereby allowing the authority to review benefits payouts in line with changes in the economy.”
In addition to the allowance benefits the pensioners are to receive, NSSA has also dispatched a mobile clinic to the southern region of the country where they are to provide selected medical services to their pensioners. NSSA runs a pension and accident prevention and workers compensation scheme, which targets mainly those who suffer injuries at work that prevent them from working again.
“By year end, NSSA hopes the minimum pension for beneficiaries would be US$60 payable at the inter-bank rate. The current mobile clinic dispatched to the southern region however will begin in Zvishavane, to Gwanda and then Bulawayo where it would carry out diagnostic medical surveillance in mines and other industries in that region.”
Manase said other none-monetary benefits that were being explored included support for income generating projects and farming out-grower schemes, discounts at participating shops, waiver of bank charges, a revolving fund for retirees and pensioners as well as assistance with medical care.
“The reality is that no matter the monetary benefits supplied, it can never be enough hence we have come up with new ways of augmenting pensioner payouts,” Manase said.
This follows a realization that the meagre monthly payouts of $1 000, which are currently being reviewed, cannot sustain the pensioners and other beneficiaries. The multi-million fund has for years been criticized for enriching executives, splashing funds on loss making ventures, while its owners struggle to make ends meet.