The Sunday Mail
Business Reporter —
THE National Social Security Authority (NSSA) is currently trying to persuade mobile phone companies to slash tariffs for their mobile money services in order to make them a convenient payment alternative for pensioners who are presently bearing the brunt of cash queues.
The proposal is part of a raft of measures that are being implemented by NSSA to provide a safety net for pensioners. A dedicated team that is expected to clear the backlog on pension applications has also been set.
There has been an active campaign by the Authority to drive pensioners into receiving their payouts through mobile money services. NSSA board chairman Mr Robin Vela said an efficient service delivery system has become a priority.
“The new NSSA management has placed service delivery as one of its top priorities going forward and has set up a dedicated team to clear the backlog of pension applications.
“The Authority is also encouraging pensioners to register to receive their pensions via mobile money and is negotiating favourable tariffs for pensioners with the various mobile operators.
“All payments are made through banks and mobile platforms and the prevailing cash shortages have posed problems for the majority of pensioners,” said Mr Vela.
The introduction of bond notes by the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) on November 28 last year has failed to tame cash queues at banks as anticipated.
Demand for cash has remained high.
Although plastic and mobile money have been marketed as convenient alternatives, transaction costs associated with these platforms have made them unattractive for consumers, most of who have low disposable income.
Also, some unscrupulous retailers are levying additional costs on non-cash payments. Similarly, some mobile money merchants are demanding as much as 10 percent of redeemed amounts.
As part of additional measures that are meant to increase efficiency and convenience, NSSA is planning to replace life certificates with biometric registration.
Biometric verification refers to any means by which a person can be uniquely identified by evaluating one or more distinguishing biological traits such as fingerprints, hand geometry, earlobe geometry, retina and iris patterns, voice waves, DNA and signatures.
It is envisaged that migrating to the new system will eliminate the need for pensioners to present themselves to NSSA offices in order to get a life certificate.
“Using their biometric identification, they can access their payments from wherever they are through their preferred channel such as banks or mobile platforms,” explained Mr Vela.
Separately, Government has since November 2016 adjusted its pension contributions in line with Statutory Instrument (SI) 61 of 2013 which was gazetted in June 2013.
Through SI 61 of 2013, Government increased monthly pension contributions from 6 percent (3 percent employer and 3 percent employee) to 7 percent (3,5 percent employer and 3,5 percent employee) of basic salary.
However, Government could not easily align to the contributions at the time. As a result, employee contributions have been increased from US$1,42 to a maximum of US$6,92 per month.
However, the adjustment of contributions by Government in line with the new law was misconstrued as an increment in monthly pension contributions.