Kampala, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | The Ministry of Public Service has said that the many complaints by retired public servants about delayed or denied pension payments turn out to be false.
Every year, the total pension amounts payable to retirees increase by several billion shillings as more workers reach retirement age.
However, the ministry responsible for the welfare of public servants says there are many categories of former workers that keep coming up to claim pension, many of whom are illegitimate.
Among them are those who were appointed on short-contract terms and at the end they are paid a lump sum because of the small amounts, including the former East African Community workers.
Catherine Bitarakwate, the Permanent Secretary at the Ministry of Public Service, says the false claimants include people who absconded or left work without going through the proper procedures.
She says that they then return later claiming that they should be considered as retirees.
Bitarakwate says that people who are employed by corporations that have retirement benefits schemes, especially parastatals, have also been making claims. She says these do not qualify because they have their schemes, yet they have been filing claims.
In March, the government tabled the Public Service Pension Funds Bill 2023 aimed at restructuring the fund, where workers would be required to contribute 5 percent of their gross pay towards the fund, while the government would contribute 10 percent.
Currently, the government foots all the pension and it is mostly paid out to the beneficiary on a monthly basis after they retire.
An audit report by the Auditor General in June 2022 showed that the pension bill had grown to 443 billion Shillings, more than double from the previous year.
State Minister for Public Service, Mary Mugasa pointed at workers who resigned from public service to join elective politics as the law requires.
However, she says, after their political careers end or they lose an election, they return to claim to be included amongst the retirees and therefore be paid a pension.
Mugasa says by joining politics before the retirement age or the other circumstances states under the law, they forfeit retirement benefits including pension.
According to the ministry discoveries, some of the false claims are driven either by greed or the search for survival when the workers fail to prepare for retirement.
However, there is also a category who work for a short time and therefore they will be entitled to little money in the form of a pension.
Bitarakwate says that these are usually paid all their benefits at once for them to make sense. However, many return claiming that they are supposed to be paid monthly.
The proposed amendment to the pension laws could also be aimed at helping the fight against corruption.
Bitarakwate says that the need for survival is one of the causes of corruption, so in reforming the salary structures, they are also looking at reforming the pension so that workers are catered for better even in retirement.
It is expected that the Bill, which would transform the government pension schemes to appear more like the National Social Security Fund, will cut the government pension liability by more than 90 percent.
When one presents a pension claim: having a letter of confirmation in service, and being pensionable from the date of appointment on probation
The onus is on the responsible officer to explain why an individual with such a letter should not receive pension
( it will be interesting to hear why some one who served less years gets recognised and others have to forget all about it)
If one transfered service to a unit where no pension is given, the unit has to be contacted to confirm its activities, assuming the contrary!
Then the issue of cost of living and interest that the frozen benefits have attracted
These are well described in the calculation of amounts of money to be given out ( retired people are continuing to be as sharp as they were when they qualified to serve)
In this setting a spent former employee listens to different versions every time they drag the cracking joints to these offices
Indeed one talks of survival, no right thinking dedicated worker would bear the redicue related to claiming what they are not entitled to
Indeed talk of survival, from the previous salary structure did these individuals have any savings to talk about?
Those trips made to office are the last attempts after failing to make ends meet, true, but d,o these people just dream of the trip?
The unfortunate old people whose only crime was to serve this country with dedication, request for feedback in a way that they are used to
One that they can be added to the pile of letters from former employers promisi g to recognise their period of service
A promise that seems to have undergone some ” mutations” and can no longer be recognised!
Those people who did not prepare for retirement were very “lousy” to say the least!
On receiving salary, they would go to the local shop to pay off money owed. Then start getting basic essentials on credit during that very visit. In other words the salary was only enough to sustain them at the work place!!
Not all were ” able to get alternate means of income”
Let the current salary not blind the administrators to the plight of those who served the country from the 1980’s
One assumed pensioner did recall that her parent ( having served from1956 to 1982) died after getting some money worth a pair of Bata shoes in 1983, the explanation about his pension is yet to arrive
Indeed even when they are making false claims, the response should be explicit. It will enable them reflect better on the past mistakes and subsequently expire while at peace with the creator
The author dreamt of a “desk review” of previous communication by employers and cross checking benefits by different public employers