Natasha Chamba/Michael Magoronga, Business Reporters
FINANCE and Economic Development Minister, Professor Mthuli Ncube, is expected to address a high level pensions indaba in Victoria Falls tomorrow where he will share insights on critical issues relating to retirement savings and economic development.
The gathering comes at a time when legislators are warming up for a new Pensions Bill, which seeks to tighten enforcement of compensation of pensioners after it emerged that most workers were being ripped off following demonetisation of the Zimbabwean dollar in 2009.
The Bill will also compel company management to be directly accountable for non-remittance of pension of their workers to the pension commission.
The Zimbabwe Association of Pension Funds (ZAPF) hosts the indaba under the theme “Retirement Savings in an Uncertain Economic Environment”.
The event ends on Saturday.
Trustees, principal officers, pension fund administrators, asset managers, human resource managers, investment managers, property managers and actuaries are expected to attend.
Insurance and Pensions Commission (IPEC) spokesperson Mr Lloyd Gumbo told a pensions’ workshop in Kwekwe on Monday that the Commission was disturbed by reports that pension companies and insurance funds took advantage of dollarisation to swindle workers of their money. He said IPEC has been tasked by Government to spearhead the compensation programme.
“We have proposed to Parliament that there be crafted a legal framework to help us achieve the intended goal of getting workers compensated. It was discovered that what happened then was wrong, those who lost their pensions through dollarisation should be compensated,” said Mr Gumbo.
“We have already passed through the Attorney General’s office and we have met the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Finance . . . to fast-track the process and avoid further delays in the matter.”
He said it was worrying that some companies were not remitting pensions thereby putting workers at risk of not getting their benefits when due.
“It was discovered that management were in the habit of collecting pensions from workers but not remitting them to the pension fund. This puts workers at risk and the same legal framework is set to compel management to remit the money collected. The companies will face consequences if they fail to remit the pensions money,” said Mr. Gumbo.
He said it was worrying to note that of the $600 million owed, local authorities owed the pension authority $200 million.
“As it is as IPEC, we do not have a legal framework to support us and be able to hold the management to account. The legal framework will go a long way in putting management to task,” said Mr Gumbo.
IPEC recently held a series of workshops around the country to educate pensioners on important information to do with pensions.
During the workshop, it emerged that about 50 000 pensioners could be wallowing in poverty yet their pensions amounting to millions of dollars are lying idle.
“Due to lack of adequate information, pension funds are lying idle while their beneficiaries could be wallowing in poverty. We are therefore going round the country educating pensioners on the important aspects to do with pensions and insurance,” said Mr Gumbo.