Secretary to the Treasury Felix Nkulukusa has disclosed that treasury has released K837 million for social protection programmes, of which K255 million is targeted at pensioners under the Public Service Pensions Fund (PSPF), and K50 million for those under the Local Authorities Superannuation Fund (LASF).
Mr. Nkulukusa said the release of the funds for social protection programmes will ensure sustained and continued protection of the poor, the vulnerable, and pensioners.
In a statement from the Ministry of Finance and National Planning, Mr. Nkulukusa urged all implementing agencies of the released funds to ensure that effective payment systems are deployed to serve retirees.
“The Treasury has released K837 million for social protection programmes, of which K255 million is targeted at pensioners under the Public Service Pensions Fund (PSPF), and K50 million for those under the Local Authorities Superannuation Fund (LASF). Of the total released for social protection, K402 million is for the Social Cash Transfer Programme and K130 million for the Food Security Pack Programme,” he stated.
“The action has been done to ensure sustained and continued protection of the poor, the vulnerable, and pensioners. I take this opportunity to urge all implementing agencies of the released funds to ensure that effective payment systems are deployed so that we do not prolong the hardships experienced by our fellow citizens, especially retirees, the poor and the vulnerable,” Mr. Nkulukusa said.
Mr. Nkulukusa’s statement comes hours after President Hakainde Hichilema had revealed in a facebook post that the Government had started paying retirees.
“We have started paying off our retirees who spent many years waiting for their pension,” President Hichilema posted on his official facebook page.
“In our 2022 budget, we have allocated K2.1 billion to dismantle these outstanding arrears. Our preoccupation is not the 2026 election, but serving the people of Zambia,” he wrote.
According to the Ministry of Finance, in 2022, the Social Cash Transfer Programme will be scaled up by increasing the number of beneficiaries to over one million from the 880,539 as at end August 2021.
Next year, the transfer value per household will also be increased from K150 to K200 per month and from K300 to K400 per month for households with severely disabled members.
The statement added:”With regard to the Food Security Pack Programme, the number of beneficiaries will be increased to 290,000 households in 2022 from 263,700 as at end-August 2021. The Programme is targeted at the vulnerable but viable farmer households. Other social protection interventions that will be scaled up include the Girls Education and Women’s Empowerment and Livelihood Programme, the Home-Grown School Feeding Programme, Public Welfare Assistance Scheme, and Child Welfare Programmes.”
“As at end September 2021, pension benefit arrears for retired public service workers stood at K1.2 billion. This has negatively impacted their livelihoods. To safeguard the livelihoods of retirees, in 2022, the Government will dismantle all outstanding pension arrears for public service workers and curtail the accumulation of arrears going forward.”
“To make the pension system financially sustainable and provide social security to retirees, Government will also review and amend relevant legislation including Public Service Pensions Act Cap 260 of the Laws of Zambia, Local Authorities Superannuation Fund Act Cap 284 of the Laws of Zambia and the Pension Scheme Regulation Act No. 27 of 2005. The new pension system will enable retirees to access accrued benefits before retirement,” the statement concluded.