Newly passed amendments placing all six social security funds under the Ministry Labour and Employment and directing harmonisation of benefits calculations in a bid to improve the sector have been well received.
Under the previous set up each social security fund was formed under its own law, reported to a different authority and used different formula to calculate benefits for its members.
Members interviewed by The Guardian said the measures would go a long way in improving the way the funds served members and their sustainability.
“We are happy that there will be freedom for members to choose the fund they wanted to join,” said Hamad Said of Temeke, pointing out that it was also a wake-up call for funds offering members poor services.
Siegfrid Kalau of a firm in Dar’s IT sector said he hoped the Social Security Regulatory Authority would strictly ensure that members’ funds are invested wisely.
Before the amendments the Parastatal Pension Fund (PPF), Public Service Pension Fund (PSPF) and Government Employees Pension Fund (GEPF) reported to the ministry of Finance, while the National Social Security Fund (NSSF) was under the Ministry of Labour and Employment and the Local Authorities Pensions Fund (LAPF) came under the Prime Minister’s Office (Regional Administration).
The National Hospital Insurance Fund (NHIF) reported to the ministry of Health and Social Welfare.
The amendments presented to the House by the Minister for Labour and Employment Gaudencia Kabaka Social Security Funds besides harmonising the benefits calculations formulae, also requires that it take into account the entire service period of a member, life span after retirement, the pension value compared to the avalanche of value for money and inflation, as well as service integration for members who had worked in different places.
Social Security Regulatory Authority act no.8 of year 2008, section 30 requires all employers to give new employees the opportunity to join a social security fund of their choice.
The amendments also open the door for competition in membership registration, with the criteria for all Social Security Funds being good service delivery and additional products from those stated by ILO Convention 102.
Minister Kabaka said the more than 150 amendments aimed to change Social Security Funds laws, Authority law, and Insurance law and include missing provisions to improve social security services, benefits, reduce operating costs, provide guidelines, including investment guidelines.
She said many members had complained of not benefiting from investments made by Social Security Funds.
She said the government through the Social Security Regulatory Authority aimed to ensure sustainability of the funds, protect interest of members, increase coverage and reduce the burden to the Government. The amendments empower Authority to set benefit calculation formulae, issue regulations, conduct actuarial valuation, conduct compliance and other function as stated in the SSRA act section 5 with exception of policy issues.
It was also the government vision that eventually every Tanzanian would become a member of social security funds.
She said the amendments also entailed changing names of some Funds to enable them to register members in the market both from formal and informal sectors. Currently only 3.5 percent of all Tanzanians are members of Social Security Funds and only 6.5 percent of the work force are members of schemes.
Number of board members both for the Authority and the Social Security Funds has been reviewed and clearly stated that it will range between 7-9 depending on the size of the Fund, also enabling good representation of employers, employees, governments and professionals.
Social Security Funds Investments will be guided by investment guidelines to be issued by Authority in collaboration with the central bank.
According to new changes any employer with foreign employees will have to remit all employees’ contributions to the Social Security Funds, regardless to their nationality as this will increase coverage, membership and size of the fund.