18 January 2013

Namibia: Massive Increase in GIPF's Benefits

FUNERAL benefits for members and beneficiaries of the Government Institutions Pension Fund (GIPF) have been increased by between 60% and 200%, backdated to December 14 last year.

New GIPF chief executive officer and principal officer David Nuyoma yesterday said the increased and improved funeral benefits would cost the GIPF around N$8 million per year, compared to N$3,6 million during its last financial year.

"The fund will assist burying its members and pensioners in the most dignified manner," Nuyoma said. The GIPF currently has about 80 000 active members and 50 000 annuitants.

The funeral benefit for a member before retirement now stands at N$8 000, up from N$5 000. The same applies to the spouse of such a member.

The funeral benefit for member's child older than one year has been increased from N$1 000 to N$3 000, while the benefit for a child younger than a year, as well as a stillborn child, is up from N$500 to N$1 000.

The GIPF has also introduced a funeral benefit of N$8 000 for a retired member. However, funeral benefits of retired members will not be extended to their dependants.

"Members and beneficiaries whose loved ones passed away on or after December 14 2012 and who received the old benefits will be given a back-payment in terms of the new [GIPF] rules," Nuyoma said.

Introducing a pension-backed home-loan scheme is still "very much on the cards", he also said.

"Right now it has become urgent and the [GIPF] board of trustees and management are looking at it in this context," Nuyoma said.

Towards the end of last year, GIPF chairperson Ellaine Samson said although the fund wanted to introduce the scheme during its financial year, it was unable to because "outdated legal constraints embedded in the Pension Funds Act of 1956 make the implementation unfeasible".

Nuyoma yesterday said that the GIPF would pay for the increased funeral benefits itself and that members will not be charged for it.

"Notwithstanding perpetual increases of the fund's liabilities and unpredictable market conditions, we are confident that the GIPF remains in a sound financial position to afford such review of benefits," he said.

Nuyoma said the GIPF remains fully funded and that its ratio of assets to liabilities is 105%.

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