TRADE Union Congress of Tanzania (TUCTA) yesterday applauded the enactment of Public Service Social Security Fund Act to merge the various pension funds into two schemes.
The trade union apex body welcomed the move, saying the merger will lead to lucrative packages for pensioners.
Through the new legislation that the National Assembly enacted and President John Magufuli assented to, the country now has two social security funds, the Public Service Social Security Fund (PSSSF) and the National Social Security Fund (NSSF) for public and private sectors, respectively. Prior to the legislation, there were five pension funds with almost similar benefits.
They included NSSF, PPF Pension Fund, Public Service Pension Fund, Local Authorities Pension Fund and Government Employees Provident Fund (GEPF).
Speaking at the climax of the International Labour Day at Samora Stadium in Iringa yesterday, TUCTA Secretary General, Dr Yahaya Msigwa, appreciated the amalgamation, describing it as critical in reducing operational costs of the funds.
“There were some people who thought the schemes’ blending politically motivated but the truth is we (TUCTA) were behind the campaign to merge the social schemes for the past six years,” he stated, asking the government to consider reducing Pay As You Earn (PAYE) tax and setting the minimum wage for employees in the public and private sectors at 750,000/-.
Speaker of the National Assembly, Mr Job Ndugai, commended Dr Magufuli for signing the Bill into law. “The National Assembly will review all legislations perceived to be detrimental to workers … it’s our hope that workers will continually work hard for improved productivity,” Mr Ndugai said in his brief speech at the well attended event.
Dr Msigwa challenged the Social Security Regulatory Authority (SSRA) and the two pension funds to conduct public awareness campaigns to enlighten workers on the merger benefits.
“There are some workers out there scared of the new arrangement, thinking it will deny them of their obligatory pensions, there is need to educate them,” Dr Msigwa observed. He pointed out that the industrialisation drive and execution of the government championed development projects will play a crucial role in creating new jobs for Tanzanians.
Prime Minister Kassim Majaliwa, in his greetings to the workers, praised public and private sectors’ employees for their hard work. “In my capacity as chief executive of government affairs I have visited many public and private institutions and witnessed how people are working hard to achieve the middle income economy by 2025,” testified the premier.
The Minister of State in Prime Minister’s Office (Policy, Parliamentary Affairs, Labour, Employment, Youth and Disabled), Ms Jenista Mhagama, pledged maximum cooperation between the government and trade unions in the country.
“We have been conducting dialogue on various issues for workers, including merging the social security schemes, which the trade unions had proposed … Tanzania is among few countries that have successfully unified the schemes,” she explained.
Foreign Affairs and East African Cooperation Minister, Dr Augustine Mahiga, commended President Magufuli for spearheading various development projects in Iringa, with the aim of transforming the region into a tourist hub in the Southern Highlands.
He cited upgrading of Iringa Airport, envisaged construction of a tarmac road from Iringa to Ruaha National Park as well as completion of paved road from Iringa to the designated capital, Dodoma, as major projects seeking to unlock trade and investment opportunities in the region.
From Dodoma, the Regional Commissioner (RC), Dr Binilith Mahenge, has reportedly ordered trade unions in the region to report to his office employers violating workers’ rights.
Addressing workers at the International Labour Day, Dr Mahenge said employers not complying to the National Social Security Fund Act that provides for contributions to pension funds be reported for appropriate action.
“I want reports on employers violating workers’ rights in my area,” ordered the RC at Jamhuri Stadium where workers celebrated their day.
Themed, “We support the government’s decision to merge pension funds,” this year’s Labour Day was aimed at reminding employers to comply with the National Social Security Fund Act.
Regarding the promotion of Dodoma into a city, the RC said plans were underway to survey over 100,000 new plots, adding that the sale of 18,000 plots that started recently was on progress.
“The objective is to ensure that every Dodoma resident gets an opportunity to own the plot,” he said, appealing to investors to invest in real estate in the new city to capitalise on the growing demand for residential houses amid government’s move to relocate to the central city.
Dr Mahenge ordered public and private institutions to embark on tree planting campaign in support of Vice-President Samia Suluhu Hassan launched campaign to keep Dodoma green. Earlier, TUCTA Executive Committee Member Sosteness Ndishi raised concern over the merging of pension funds, saying workers were worried over their benefits.
“Workers are worried over calculation of their benefits in pension funds after the government merged the social security funds,” he said, appreciating the government’s resolve to clear workers’ arrears.