CHOMBA MUSIKA, Lusaka
GOVERNMENT has released K150 million to the Local Authorities Superannuation Fund (LASF) to pay outstanding pension benefits to over 3,800 beneficiaries.
Minister of Local Government and Housing Vincent Mwale said Government will within the course of the year disburse a second portion of the money to offset the entire K390 million debt in unpaid lump sum benefits owed to all the retirees under LASF.
Mr Mwale told a press briefing in Lusaka yesterday that the disbursement of the money is in line with the Patriotic Front (PF)’s pro-poor policies aimed at alleviating the suffering of its people, especially pensioners.
He said the K150 million is an initial payment out of close to K400 million set aside for easing the plight of pensioners under LASF.
Mr Mwale said Government has embarked on broad pension reforms aimed at improving the social security sector by focusing on redesigning the pension benefits and rules, addressing its legal framework and clearing of unpaid liabilities relating to pension benefits.
“It is against this backdrop that Government has released K150 million to LASF to pay over 3,800 beneficiaries and the second tranche will be released within the course of the year so that all retirees are paid in full,” Mr Mwale said.
He said K96 million is owed to another group of over 10,000 pensioners who have not received their annuities since 2013.
Mr Mwale appealed to pensioners under LASF and other beneficiaries to stay calm and wait for their scheme to work out the payment modalities which started on Monday last week.
“Government has done its part and it is up to LASF to immediately roll out the payment programme and I will be following this process [payment of retirees] with a keen eye,” he said.
And LASF public relations officer Chishimba Milongo confirmed receipt of the K150 million.
Mr Milongo said in a statement yesterday that all pensioners are required to submit the newly-introduced LASF form three, which is a verification form for members’ active bank accounts details.
He said pensioners who will submit their bank details earlier will be first to be paid.
And Mr Mwale said he will soon issue a statutory instrument for the creation of a bus and markets fund that will help raise money to address the plight of marketeers.
He said part of the money raised from the fund will go towards construction of high-rising markets.