SSC hush over dormant funds

07 February 2021 | Social Issues

The Social Security Commission (SSC) remains unresponsive to questions regarding its dormant funds, the National Pension Fund (NPF) and National Medical Benefit Fund (NMBF) – funds that form part of the Social Security Commission Act of 1994.
It remains unclear why these funds are inactive, 27 years later.
Without the two funds, SSC’s offerings are focused on social insurance, meaning the commission only caters for its members while Namibians who could benefit from the medical and pension funds are left out. The said funds cater for any employee, be it in the formal and informal sectors, who are registered members of the SSC while the existing funds provide mainly for those employed in the formal sector.
At present, SSC runs three funds: the Maternity, Sick Leave and Death Benefit Fund; Employees’ Compensation Fund and Development Fund.
Since October last year, SSC chief executive Milka Mungunda and her communications team are yet to respond to detailed questions on the funds.
On Thursday, Nampa could still not get hold of Mungunda, while the commission’s spokesperson Unomengi Kauapirura - who is privy to Nampa’s queries to Mungunda since last year - declined to comment, dropping the bucket at her boss’ doorsteps.
Over the years, politicians and activists have called for the activation of the funds, arguing that it will enable the commission to assist the most vulnerable in society.
This week, Windhoek mayor and Affirmative Repositioning (AR) leader Job Amupanda took to social media on the issue and also shared his post with Nampa: “For 30 years now, [the] Social Security Commission has refused to implement benefits of the poor. Section 32 of the Social Security Act requires the commission to establish a National Medical Aid Benefit Fund. In Section 34, they were supposed to establish a National Pension Fund. [But] they refused to implement the law.”
Had the two funds been implemented, Amupanda said taxi drivers, security guards and domestic workers would have access to a pension fund as well as medical aid today.

Advocacy
Popular Democratic Movement lawmaker Elma Dienda is another advocate for the funds.
Late in 2019, Dienda told the National Assembly that the medical fund - if enacted - would cater for over 80% of the population currently denied quality and affordable health services.
At the time, Dienda said implementing a medical fund would be a “win-win situation” as it will primarily benefit previously disadvantaged Namibians. She said there is a sense of hostility toward the medical fund as it is considered a threat to private medical aid funds. “But profits should not hold the majority of Namibians hostage,” she said at the time.
Talks about the implementation of the funds date back to 2011 when government through SSC commissioned a study to determine the viability and sustainability of an NMBF, official records show.
The establishment of this fund would again be highlighted in President Hage Geingob’s five-year governance blueprint - the Harambee Prosperity Plan, under the Social Progression Pillar in 2016. It was seen an important buffer for Namibian workers in both the informal and formal economy and an economic stabiliser to improve the welfare of a greater portion of the employed Namibian population, Government records further reveal.
Questions on the progress of the funds’ implementation in the context of the HPP to Presidency spokesperson Alfredo Hengari on Thursday were not responded to. – Nampa

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