The Government Institutions Pension Fund (GIPF) has budgeted N$1,2 billion to trace and pay out close to 12 000 non-active beneficiaries countrywide. The benefits include those for widows and widowers, retirees, orphans and disabled beneficiaries.
According to David Nuyoma, chief executive officer of GIPF, the introduction of a biometrics verification system during 2009 helped the fund to become more efficient in disbursing benefits to its members as it greatly minimised fraudulent claims.
The biometrics system requires GIPF members to verify themselves three times annually to ensure they continue to receive their benefits. However, during this process many members also failed to verify themselves, leading to the suspension of benefits.
“Our efforts to locate these people through in-house administrative channels, as well as externally, have not yielded satisfactory results, hence the need for this rather aggressive and thorough campaign we are launching today,” said Nuyoma yesterday during the campaign launch to trace the beneficiaries.
“The objective of this campaign is to reduce the list of unclaimed benefits to zero and we believe that together with stakeholders this milestone will be achieved,” he noted.
Nuyoma explained that the worrying escalating trend in unclaimed benefits is attributed to a myriad of reasons, including the inability of some pensioners to provide proof of existence as required in terms of the fund’s rules, failure of concerned families to register orphans, lack of family support to assist disabled members in renewing their annuity payments, beneficiaries residing outside the country, general lack of awareness about benefits as well as disagreements among family members.
“These are some of the challenges the fund is facing in discharging its responsibility of ensuring consistent annuity payments to members. However, given this phenomenon we believe that our in-house administrative mechanisms of tracing and engaging affected members should be supported by an all-out information campaign involving all stakeholders,” said Nuyoma.
To assist its efforts, GIPF has printed the names of all affected beneficiaries in a rather thick publication, which it intends to distribute to information points across the country. The fund published a similar list in 2014 but due to inadequate responses it is now broadening the scope of its efforts.
“We wish to partner with regional as well as political constituency offices to assist with the identification of beneficiaries within their respective areas of jurisdiction. The fund also values the relationship it has with traditional authorities and we are of the view that we should engage these structures for the purpose of tracing our beneficiaries,” Nuyoma further stated.
Stakeholders the GIPF has now roped in to help with the identification of beneficiaries include tertiary institutions, trade unions, schools, churches and local authorities.
“We have no doubt that these channels are critical in our efforts to address this plight. Our target is to reduce this list to zero, as we do not want anyone to be left out. Our appeal also goes to Namibian communities in general to follow this campaign and help those in need to restore their dignity. In doing so, communities will assist in alleviating hopelessness and destitution in our country,” Nuyoma said.