Pension payments start today
05 October 2021 | Social Issues
Epupa Investments today begins their monthly payments of pension grants, disability grants and funeral benefits to beneficiaries at 12 points in the capital. By next week, towns across the country will be visited to pay out these grants.
Epupa has been distributing pensions and other grants on behalf of government for the past ten years, and according to Kasikile Kambiri, the company's head of finance and operations, service delivery to 35 000 additional beneficiaries from Nampost will not affect their obligations.
Since September, beneficiaries can no longer withdraw cash directly at post offices without Nampost bank cards and accounts.
Kambiri says the additional number of beneficiaries is small fry compared to the more than 200 000 beneficiaries that Epupa already serves.
The executive director of the ministry of gender equality, poverty eradication and social welfare, Esther Lusepani, said last week that the responsibility for these grants would be transferred to regional councils.
The ministry has been in charge of these grants since March 2020 when previous ministries merged.
She says almost a fifth of all Namibian households are dependent on pension benefits.
According to the ministry, more than half of Namibian households consist of extended families and about 10% include non-family members.
“Grandparents sometimes take care of children whose parents work, have AIDS or are dead, and often use their state pension to pay for the children’s education. The composition of rural Namibia also indicates that the vast majority of families usually consist of more than five members, with only one breadwinner. It is estimated that almost a fifth of all families depend on state pensions as the only source of income,” she says.
She adds that it is “to ensure that people have easier access to services in their area, and that the ministry decentralizes its social welfare functions, which consist of the provision of pension grants, disability grants and funeral benefits”.
Government's decentralization policy demands the strengthening of regional and local authorities through the transfer of powers.
The Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR) last week released research indicating that decentralization is not being properly applied.
Researcher Kitty Mcgirr says the policy is not applied consistently, especially by line ministries, which leaves regional councils with more administrative responsibilities but without the resources or authority to carry out their duties effectively.
Even though regional councillors are closer to their voters - because they are directly elected - it is less important as long as regional councils are not given the power to improve their communities, she says.
Ministerial spokesperson Lukas Haufiku, added that “when it comes to decentralization, it refers to the administration. The actual budget remains with the ministry. The money is transferred from the ministry to the paymaster, either the bank in question, or Nampost, or Epupa,” he said.
Kambiri says Epupa has already distributed about N$20 billion over the last ten years without losing a cent of government's money.
He says Epupa is like a mobile bank that brings money to beneficiaries, without extra expenses, and thus can boost rural economies.
In terms of the impact of decentralization, he says government will inform the company as needed, as Epupa has been appointed by government. “I expect things to stay basically the same,” he says.
On the chaos experienced at the distribution of pensions in Keetmanshoop last month, Kambiri says it was due to miscommunication between the ministry and town council. Apparently there was confusion about the premises where the money would be paid out.
The problem was solved by allocating a hall in the town where beneficiaries will receive their payment next Wednesday, he says.
Outstanding payments for August and September can still be claimed this month.