The Namibian (Windhoek)

Namibia: Public Workers Want Reform of GIPF Rules

THE Public Servants Committee has reiterated its call for an urgent reform of the Government Institutions Pension Fund (GIPF) rules.

In a statement issued earlier this week, the committee said the GIPF board should consult members during the reform process.

What the committee insists upon is a 50-50 representation of workers and the employer - Government - on the GIPF board.

Further, it wants surplus funds to benefit the members, and it wants, in accordance with the Pension Fund Act of 1956, or the amendment of the Pension Fund Act which is still in the works, to be able to borrow against pension fund contributions for housing and home improvements.

The chairperson of the committee, Adeline Black, yesterday said that the current loopholes in the GIPF rules should be addressed as a matter of urgency.

There were reportedly talks of substantial amendments to the GIPF rules last year August, discussed by 'a select few', according to the committee.

At the time, the acting CEO of the GIPF, Maria Dax, denounced this claim, saying that the meeting included representation from the Namibia Public Workers' Union (Napwu) and the National Teachers Union of Namibia (Nantu), as well as officials from the Office of the Prime Minister, parastatals, regional councils, the Public Service Commission, the Namibia Financial Institutions Supervisory Authority (Namfisa), and the then GIPF board members.

Dax further stated that the meeting was a continuation of a process that had started in 2001.

She advised GIPF members to submit their recommendations to the Government institutions where they work, who would then them over to the GIPF.

The meeting did deliberate on how the rules should become more responsive to the needs of the GIPF members, which included recommendations on the implementation of the GIPF's housing loan facility.

Last year, the committee criticised a rule where the appointing authority may remove board members at its discretion.

It also found it unacceptable that the board chairperson was given powers - in accordance with the rules - to "exclude from the meeting any trustee who deliberately ignores instructions from the chairperson".

It also criticised another provision that said an annual appraisal of the board would be done in accordance to processes and procedures determined by the board.

The committee argued that even the performance of boards of State-owned enterprises are subject to assessment by their appointing authority, adding that board members should not control the process of their own appraisal.

A further point raised by the committee was that union representation on the GIPF board should be from members of the GIPF.

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