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Shamenda urges further improvement of benefits

MINISTER of Labour and Social Security Fackson Shamenda has counselled the Workers’ Compensation Fund Control Board (WCFCB) to make further improvements to compensation benefits in order to meet the aspirations of government and the people of Zambia.
The minister observed that benefits had remained low as a result of restrictive clauses in the Workers’ Compensation Act No. 10 of 1999 of the Laws of Zambia, and advised that the process to amend the act should be expedited.
The minister, who was speaking to a sizable audience at Taj Pamodzi Hotel during the launch of the WCFCB strategic plan, commended the board and management on strides made in the recent past to update financial statements for the organisation, which in the past were said to lag behind, by more than three years. Readers will agree that in the absence of audited financial statements, WCFCB could not engage actuaries to undertake valuations of the fund to ascertain possibilities of upward adjustments of pension payments, hence the difficulties to make improvements.
Comfort is, however, drawn from the recent updating of financial statements for WCFCB which permitted a 30 percent upward adjustment of monthly pensions and indexation of payouts to the consumer price of Zambia on recommendations of the government actuary department of the United Kingdom.
This author can recall that the minister has consistently advised the board and management on the need to ensure that compensation benefits are improved significantly whenever an opportunity to engage with him has presented itself. With this level of government support and goodwill, it can well be said that the future is certainly positive for many of the beneficiaries under the WCFCB scheme.
With the launch of the 2016-2020 strategic plan which gives a framework within which strategic objectives shall be achieved, it can be confirmed here, that the ship is headed in the right direction.
Someone has read the temperature at the right time and there is absolutely no need to worry about the iceberg.
Well, you might say, if someone had read the temperature at the right time, things could have been different for the titanic ship, but that is water under the bridge now.
What we should concern ourselves with now is whether the titanic story should continue to repeat itself.
And when we talk about the changes taking place in WCFCB today, it should be understood that they are ignited by the temperature readings in the business environment of today, and they are meant to serve the greater majority of our people.
We know that stakeholders’ interests are varied from affordability of the scheme to adequacy of benefits and that is why we make frantic efforts to adapt the business to those expectations and norms except we must say that adaptation has not been without its own resistance.
That is why we take the advice by the minister of Labour and Social Security to embrace every member of staff in the change process, including, as honourable Shamenda would wisely put it, ‘players in the team who score own goals’. The minister used an example of football to demonstrate how credit should be shared as team when you win despite having some players score own goals.
If we improve benefits, grow the fund and ensure compliance levels are at their best, all the team members will receive credit, including those who may not have performed to expectation. One thing would certainly override everything, and it would be that WCFCB has performed to stakeholder’ expectations. The mission would have been achieved; the customers would have been satisfied and the public would have granted the license to operate. Public approval would have come naturally.
In the concluding notes, I wish to advise that in the next few weeks or so, effort will be made to share with readers content of the 2016-2020 strategic plan. This plan, as Grant Thornton consultants working with us on the job evaluation put it, is one of the best in the country. It is difficult, and perhaps inappropriate, to sing own praises, but what can one do if those statements are coming from the consultant, who did not even work on the document?
If praising ourselves is inappropriate, again we might want to pick from the minister’s light moments in his speech, which I must confess, are very useful to my writing- ‘Lizards had climbed to the top of a tree and there was no one commending them for that achievement but they found satisfaction in that act and decided to commend themselves’. We might as well just do that. We are satisfied that the strategic plan will meet stakeholders’ interests.
God bless you!
The author is Manager Corporate Affairs & Customer Services
Workers’ Compensation Fund  Control Board
Tel: 0212621283