Parliament concerned with government pension, insurance handling

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By Hubble Chidawali

Dodoma. Parliament is unhappy with the government’s “stalling” approach on two key legislative articles that directly affect the lives of millions of Tanzanians.
Parliament Speaker Job Ndugai has expressed the House of Representatives’ dissatisfaction with the way the government is handling planned bills on the formula for calculating workers’ pension benefits and another on universal health insurance coverage.
Yesterday, the Speaker of the House of Representatives directed the Parliamentary Committee for Social Services and Community Development to summon the Ministry of Health and inquire about it regarding the draft health insurance law for all, claiming that the government was very interested in data processing.
Mr. Ndugai asked: “The law that many need is the law that is overdue, what is happening in the government, where operations are not finished?”
Special Seats Legislator Esther Bulaya made this argument when she asked for directions from the Speaker of the House of Representatives, and called for a clarification of when the Worker Pension Benefit Calculation Formula Bill would be introduced in Parliament.
In the directives, Ms. Bulaya said during the approval of the budget for the Prime Minister’s Office, the government has pledged to bring the bill into Parliament so that it can be worked on to avoid workers’ complaints.
“Mr. President, when we were discussing the budget for the Prime Minister’s office, the government told us that the draft bill on the workers’ pension benefit calculation formula would be tabled in Parliament so that we could pass it but there is no place for it,” Ms. Bulaya said.
She referred to a statement made by the late John Magufuli (President of Phase Five) that the case should be left as it would not be a remedy, but that a law should be enacted about it instead.
The Secretary of State in the Prime Minister’s Office (Politics, Parliament, Labour, Employment, Youth and the Disabled), Mrs. Ginesta Mahagama, acknowledged that the pledge had been made on the introduction of a bill for consideration of the law. However, the minister said there is still discussion on this topic which will need to involve other people including stakeholders and trade unions.
According to Ms Mahagama, the Speaker of Parliament has often insisted that bills to be brought before Parliament must be satisfactory for many things to avoid harassment.
The government is very serious. First of all, the transition period is not over, which is 2022/23. So, let me lessen your concerns, fellow Tanzanians, as we are still taking this issue seriously,” said Ms. Mahagama.
For his part, the Speaker of the House of Representatives said that if the government feels any difficulty in dealing with the bill, it should introduce this law in Parliament so that it can be passed quickly and give hope to the workers in the country.
Mr. Ndugai said there have been complaints from workers and others have called for retirement in this transitional period before the law becomes effective.
In 2018, the implementation of the 2014 government regulation on pension benefits – which came after all public sector pension funds were merged to form the Public Service Social Security Fund (PSSSF) – sparked public outrage that led to former President John Magufuli suspending his work. use [that of the new formula].
The late Magufuli ordered that all pension funds, except the National Social Security Fund, revert to the old payment formula, at least for a period of five years to clear the way for an acceptable payment system to be reached between the funds and workers.
The new pension regulations – which began operating in 2014 – mandate that workers receive 25 percent as a lump sum payment, and the remaining 75 percent to be paid on a monthly basis spread over 13 years.
The new regulations sparked outrage, especially from public servants who used to get 50 percent in the first lump sum and 50 percent on a monthly basis spread over 12 years.
And when the parliamentary sessions began in Dodoma yesterday, lawmakers were expecting to discuss a draft law to amend the formula and a piece of legislation on universal health insurance coverage, but the government was unable to present it to the law-making body.

Health insurance for everyone
Parliament Speaker Ndugai instructed the committee to urge the government to introduce the Health Insurance Bill for All in Parliament.
He said that the government’s intervention on this issue made the deputies fail to succeed for five years, explaining that about 19 or 20 meetings that lawmakers had mentioned this issue, but to no avail.
“It looks like the Minister of Health has cleverly evaded because I can’t see it here, but this issue of health insurance for everyone in all 19 or 20 meetings that we have failed to achieve, but this is priority number 1, we have many problems and this is the fifth unresolved meeting Where is the case?” asked Mr. Ndugai.

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