The National Social Security Authority (NSSA) is paying measly amounts to pensioners because increasing the sums could lead the institution to bankruptcy, general manager James Matiza said yesterday.
Matiza appeared before the Parliamentary portfolio committee on public service, labour and social welfare chaired by Mazowe South MP Margaret Zinyemba to outline the schemes run by NSSA for employees.
MPs in the committee charged NSSA was paying miserable amounts to pensioners yet they made massive investments in properties and funded some banks like Renaissance and Afre Corporation.
But Matiza said We clearly acknowledge that the levels of pensions we pay are fairly low, but this is a nationwide problem, including other pension funds.We use services of actuaries to evaluate how much we should pay pensioners and in the case of NSSA they advised us to pay those rates because they said if we paid more we might go insolvent.
He said the pensions that NSSA was paying were commensurate with international standards and practices.
We as NSSA follow examples of other social security institutions internationally and we belong to the International Social Security Association, where standards on social security are set, he said. According to Matiza, NSSA had 84% shares in Renaissance Bank and 54% shares in Afre Corporation.
Recent media reports indicated corruption was rife within NSSA as management accessed hefty amounts as loans from the institution to build themselves huge houses.
Currently, NSSA is paying a monthly retirement pension of $40, survivors pension of $20, invalidity pension of $20, childrens allowances of $20 and funeral grant allowances of $200 per death of a member.
Pensioners have always complained that the amounts were too little and ridiculous to collect, especially for those in rural areas who had to pay transport costs to access the money from banks.
Matiza said NSSA invested pension contributions in equity markets, money market investments, property markets and promoted empowerment programmes, with $500 million having been put into investments in 2011.