Govt wants all Tanzanians socially ensured

28Feb 2016
Guardian On Sunday
Govt wants all Tanzanians socially ensured

THE government has challenged the Social Security Regulatory Authority (SSRA) into subscribing all Tanzanians to the social security scheme that would involve the once-begrudged low walks of the society.

Jenista Mhagama

The begrudged social strata involved bodaboda taxi riders, fishermen, petty traders including food vendors, non-persistent and other low-income earners.

The Minister in the Prime Minister’s Office (Labour, Employment, Youth and People with Physical Disabilities), Jenista Mhagama, threw the challenge on visit to the SSRA Headquarters in Dar es Salaam on Friday.

“SSRA as a regulator should make sure that all people are covered with the scheme that would enable improve their livelihood,” she said, adding that the number of Tanzanians covered by the social security scheme was too low to serve the purpose.

Official statistics show that only 5 per cent of Tanzania’s workforce is subscribed to the social security scheme, driving the minister into demanding for SSRA tangible investment schemes proving benefits to both, its members and the public.

The number is the lowest among the three East African Community veteran states, led by Uganda’s 11 per cent followed by Kenya’s 8 per cent.

But SSRA Director General Irene Isaka hit back, saying her organization had started to address various challenges facing its members, citing an example that pension funds falling under its umbrella were now paying benefits to their members in time, and that the authority had started to impose stern measures against funds that delay collection of their monthly contribution from employers.

She also said that plans were underway to extend membership to farmers, pastoralists and other rural communities that were once left out by the authority, and that they had improved communication department to motivate Tanzanians into joining the social security funds.

Experts say Tanzania has potential opportunities yet to be covered by the social security schemes, calling for the government’s intervention to establish a well-designed broad-based scheme for sustainable coverage.

They say the authority should ensure that funds are invested in concurrence with the rules and investment guidelines as the government widens coverage of social security services in the country to include self-employed individuals in informal sector.

Currently, Tanzania has five social security schemes namely, National Social Security Fund (NSSF), Parastatal Pensions Fund (PPF), Local Authorities Pensions Fund (LAPF), Government Employees Provident Fund (GEPF) and the Public Service Pensions Fund (PSPF).