Jenista Mhagama, Minister of State in the Prime Minister’s Office (Policy, Parliamentary Affairs, Labour, Employment, Youth and Persons with Disabilities), said at Kilimanjaro regional office of the National Social Security Fund (NSSF) here yesterday that the departments’ priority should now be take legal action against all those found to have submitted fake claims.
“This is a government directive to executives in the social security funds – that they should take legal action against all those submitting false claims with intent to get undeserved pension benefits,” she said.
She described the strengthening of the funds’ capacity to take legal action against all suspects as “critical because, so far, many fraudulent claims are simply turned down but the culprits are let off scot-free.
“Do not hesitate to take them to court; they should be punished so that it serves as a lesson to others with similar intentions,” she said.
The minister said there was impeccable evidence that those behind the fraudulent claims include genuine retirees who submit cooked-up claims over and above what they deserve, a practice she said must be brought to an end by taking legal action against the culprits.
NSSF director general William Erio told minister Mhagama in Dar es Salaam on Wednesday that the fund had discerned more than 900 “unsubstantiated” pension claims worth 6.9bn/- since the verification started last month.
Social security schemes have embarked on the verification of pensioners primarily to bar fraudsters from benefiting from public funds following a nationwide audit that found more than 10,000 ghost workers on the government payroll three years ago.
“Because the audit found that many ghost workers, there is possibility of ghost pensioners pocketing public funds. That’s why we are screening all our pensioners,” Public Service Social Security Fund (PSSSF) director general Eliud Sanga told The Guardian in an interview earlier this week.
To continue receiving their monthly pension instalments, each retiree is required to appear in person at the regional office of the respective social security scheme armed with a passport, six passport-size photographs and a national identity or voter’s card.
Prime Minister Kassim Majaliwa said in May 2016 that ghost workers were costing the government over 4.5bn/- in salaries per month, which has since translated into a saving for the government.
In January last year, meanwhile, the National Assembly passed the Public Service Social Security Fund Bill of 2017 which was thereafter assented to by President John Magufuli.
The Act repealed the laws establishing the Public Service Pensions Fund (PSPF), Government Employees Provident Fund (GEPF), LAPF Pensions Fund, and PPF Pensions Fund. These four pension schemes have since been merged into PSSSF. Under the new law, NSSF serves only the private sector.