Pensioners revolving fund continues to grow

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ZIMBABWE Progressive Pensioners Trust (ZIMPPET) says the pensioners revolving fund has attracted more contributors as people on retirement seek to improve their livelihoods through engaging in businesses supported by favourable loan facilities.
The revolving fund was established by ZIMPPET to assist people in retirement to borrow money at low interest rates to start income generating projects.
The development is expected to come as a relief to thousands of pensioners who have been complaining of getting meagre monthly pay-outs.
In 1989, a statutory body was established in terms of the National Social Security Authority Act to provide social security.
However, the authority has of late come under fire for making poor investment decisions that have done little to improve the welfare of pensioners.
On an annual basis, NSSA pays out total pension premiums of about US$83 million. 
Retrenchment pensioners are paid US$60, while the survivors’ pension, invalidity pension and children allowances are paid US$30.
Despite heavily investing in every sector of the economy, NSSA has been criticised for not fully meeting the needs of pensioners who are struggling to make ends meet.
In an interview with The Patriot, ZIMPPET vice-chairperson Abraham Deketeke said the revolving fund’s monthly contributions have increased from a monthly average of US$6 000 during the first half to about US$18 000 in the second half of the year.
He said the increase was as a result of continued assistance received by pensioners through the inputs loan scheme that was launched by the organisation in June.
“Since we launched our agricultural inputs loan scheme that has seen more than 4 000 farmers benefiting countrywide, average monthly contributions have increased by at least 12 000 in the second half of the year,” he said.
“Most pensioners have been able to boost their farming projects through the scheme, hence their willingness to continue oiling the fund.”
Deketeke said the increased contributions which are administered by the Commercial Bank of Zimbabwe (CBZ) would be used to fund more pensioners’ projects in the country.
“Our operations are entirely financed from pensioners’ contributions and their commitment in boosting the fund will also boost our operations,” he said.
“The development has also boosted confidence of CBZ to act as our guarantor in providing funds to start more projects.”
Early this month, ZIMPPET doubled its budget for the agricultural loan inputs scheme from US$150 000 to US$300 000 in a bid to assist more farmers and boost production levels for the 2014/2015 season.
ZIMPPET charge a maximum of 12 percent interest on the borrowed funds.
ZIMPPET programmes officer Godknows Gutsa said most of retired people were facing challenges in sustaining their lives due to prevailing economic hardships from illegal sanctions imposed on the country by Britain and its allies.
“The fund will be used to create a capital base for retirees to access long-term and short-term affordable loans to start different business initiatives,” he said.
“We want to create a facility where people on retirement packages can improve their lives with the ‘insufficient’ funds they are getting from their contributions.”
Pensioners are required to pay a minimum of US$15 as their monthly contributions to the revolving fund.
Gutsa said apart from benefitting from the loan facility contributors will receive a percentage interest annually from the profits of the loans.
“The profits of the loans will also be shared among the contributors depending on the performance of the borrowed money,” he said.
“Contributors are also allowed to withdraw their money at anytime after making an application.”
A retirement pension is paid for as long as the pensioner is still alive.
According to NSSA, to be eligible for a retirement pension one must have contributed to the National Pensioners Scheme for at least 120 months, which is 10 years.
There is an early retirement age of 55 for those who have spent seven of the previous 10 years in a restricted number of jobs categorised by NSSA as arduous employment.
The longer one contributes for, the better one’s retirement benefit is likely to be.
The stipulated period within which one should claim one’s pension is 12 months of becoming eligible for it.

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