Pensioners accuse PSPFB of being insensitive

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The Zambia National Pensioners Association (ZANAPA) in Eastern Province, has accused the Public Service Pensions Fund Board (PSPFB) of being insensitive to the reality of life of pensioners.

The regional association said the board had allegedly thrown over 40, 000 pensioners into destitution by not speaking for them during the time government was awarding public service workers salary increments.

This is contained in a petition to President Michael Sata, through the Eastern Provincial Administration in which they are asking the President to intervene in the issue of minimum monthly pension for Public Service Pensioners.

Presenting the petition to Eastern Province Acting Deputy Permanent Secretary, Zachariah Luhanga, ZANAPA Regional Vice Chairperson, Amos Phiri, said instead of narrowing the gap between the rich and the poor, the board was allegedly taking pleasure in widening the gap, saying it was not the policy of the current government.

Mr Phiri appealed to government to revert the supervisory role of the pensioners’ fund to the Ministry of Finance because the board was allegedly a big drain on the national resources.

‘’ Before the Public Service Pensions Fund Act, which was enacted in 1996, when government awarded salary increments to its employees, the pensioners benefited by the same percentage but it is not the same this time,’’ he said, adding that before the Act, there was no disparity between officers of the same rank who retired at different dates.

Mr Phiri said the PSPFB had awarded pensioners a 12 per cent monthly pension increment with effect from April 1, 2013, which meant that those who were getting Kr 110.00 were now getting Kr 130.00 while those who were getting Kr 2,000.00, were now getting Kr 2, 240.00, saying the lowest paid increment was Kr 13.00 and that of the highest paid was Kr 240.00.

And Eastern Province Acting Deputy Permanent Secretary, Zachariah Luhanga, said government realised the huge gap between the poor and the rich and it was the reason subsidies on fuel and maize were removed.

Mr Luhanga said the issue of an upward adjustment of the minimum wage was to bridge the gap to ensure those who were getting slave perks started getting better wages.

The Acting Deputy Permanent Secretary observed that previously, workers with same qualifications who worked in different departments were getting different salaries but now government was evaluating jobs to rectify the anomaly.

He said the concerns of the pensioners were genuine but they should give government chance to rectify the anomaly.

Mr Luhanga noted that government offices were open to the public and commended the pensioners for approaching the relevant authorities instead of just sitting and complaining.

‘’Through us, you are able to access higher authorities because this letter will be given to the Provincial Minister who will deliver it to the President. Our responsibility is to ensure people’s concerns are looked at give feed back because government’s political will is there,’’ he said.

Mr Luhanga thanked the pensioners for exhibiting wisdom by approaching the Provincial Administration, saying because of their vulnerability, some people would have taken advantage and misled them to say bad things about government.