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No happy dance for pensioners

by Honorine Kaze


While GIPF has been blowing their horn on a great financial performance last year, the pensioners on the other hand might not share the same optimism.
Pensioners pessimism comes after they were only given a meager seven percent increment on pensions by GIPF, obviously not enough to bring relief to their pockets.
GIPF, however, argues that the increment is pinned on the inflationary movement but should cushion the old-aged and other pension beneficiaries from financial difficulties, electricity and water bills. Sadly, prices of basic commodities, which have gone up recently seem to have subverted the meager increment already.
“The month-on-month average increase in Consumer Price Index (CIP) is below 6% and once again, GIPF has maintained a strategy of targeting inflation-linked pension increments in order to protect pension incomes,” said Elvis Nashilongo, Manager Corporate Communications at GIPF.
On this matter, Herbert Jauch, a labor researcher and educator questions the increment as he feels it is some kind of a tease for the pensioners as it is not going to free them from the misery they are already in, given the current high cost of living..
“The 7.5% increase is a kind of a nominal increase, as it is just above inflation, hence it is not going to be of any help. They have to consider what the inflation is going to take from the money and what it is going to leave behind;; they basically got a 1-2% increase” Jauch asserted.
GIPF has been performing well these past years with a return of 11.5% for a five-year’ average with a total asset-base of 50b in unaudited figures.
“I do not see the need to floss about the great financial performance if the pensioners are not feeling the same vibe. It should be the beneficiaries enjoying that great financial performance. It is their money after all,” Jauch pointed out.
The beneficiaries for that pension fund increase are only orphans, widowers and widows from GIPF pension members while those with disabilities grant are excluded. To date, GIPF has over 40 000 pension members, with only half of them meant to benefit from that increase.
In real terms, pension increments differ from the payout and those that are getting a salary between N$500 and N$1000 will only enjoy a marginal increase of between N$20 to N$100, which in actual fact, has very little bearing on their already troubled financial affairs.
Many pensioners have already complained about the little they get monthly from GIPF, pointing out that it is not enough to live on; however, GIPF feels that in the actual economical uncertainties, they are doing enough.
“Although there have been complaints from members who feel they are not getting enough, we believe that we have been doing enough to try and keep their lives balanced,” Nashilongo said.
However, Jauch agrees with the complaints made by the pensioners arguing that: “GIPF money comes from the pensioner’s money, so in case they complain that they are not getting enough, then GIPF should look into it. They need to deal with the money carefully. Pensioners need to be happy.”
Nashilongo also argued that the pensioners should learn to live within their tight budgets in anticipation of high inflation rates, which he feels might impact on the GIPF in the long run.
The increase comes at a time when social safety net covers offered by the Government in grants and other forums have been unable  to cushion the hardships faced by the senior citizens and other vulnerable members of society..