The New Times (Kigali)

7 February 2013

Rwanda: Pension - Burundi Agrees to Pay Rwandan Claimants

Rwandans who have previously worked in Burundi's public sector now have reason to smile after officials in Bujumbura accepted to transfer their entire pension through the Rwanda Social Security Board (RSSB).

All the transfers will be completed by the end of June 2013, according to Oswald Munyandekwe, the director of pensions and occupational hazards at RSSB.

After the transfer, Munyandekwe said RSSB will integrate the money into local pension scheme before paying the beneficiaries as the law stipulates.

"Negotiations are still going on and National Institute of Social Security (INSS) has accepted to pay 3 per cent of the employees' contribution from their salaries during the time of employment in Burundi," he said.

Rwandan professionals who served in various organs in Burundi have for years, been complaining that their pensions were inaccessible after they moved to Rwanda.

This was a result of a law in Burundi that prohibits any pensioner residing outside Burundi to access their benefits.

According to Munyandekwe, the contribution rates were 3 per cent by the employee and 4.5 per cent by the employer.

So far, only the 3 per cent contributions are being transferred and are catered for in this financial year 2012-2013 of the Burundian government's Budget though the negotiations are ongoing to secure the remaining 4.5 per cent.

The development comes after the establishment of a joint permanent commission comprising senior officials from the Ministries of Public Service and Foreign Affairs from the two countries as well as RSSB and INSS to spearhead the fast tracking of the pension to Rwandans who worked in public services.

About Rwf32 million has already been channelled to RSSB's account from November 2012 and January 2013.

So far 2,000, Rwandans who worked in Burundi have registered their claims according to statement from the RSSB.

"RSSB will first verify the funds transferred and their rates of contributions considering what an individual earned when they were working in Burundi. After the verification process, the institution will now apply the laws governing the pension scheme to allocate funds in terms of pension or lump-sum to the claimants," the Director General of RSSB, Angelique Kantengwa explained in a statement to The New Times.

She added that the nationals who were in private sector and made their pension contributions through the National Institute of Social Security (INSS) in Burundi are now receiving their pension benefits on a quarterly basis as part of the arrangement between the two social security institutions - of Burundi and Rwanda.

Burundians who were employed in Kigali in the past receive their pension on quarterly basis, with about Rwf10 million sent to Burundi for that cause.

DRC dilemma

Meanwhile Munyandekwe clarified that the case of Rwandans who served in public service in Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) is complicated because of the current political turmoil in the neighbouring country which does not favor negotiations.

He pointed out that in 2011 the team visited DRC and the Congolese government accepted to pay the pension, however, adding that the beneficiaries will have to wait for the conflicts to end.

A total of 2,303 Rwandans who worked in DRC are claiming for their pension contributions. However, only 268 are considered since they are the ones that contributed to the pension scheme.

There is a memorandum of understanding of 1978 that binds The Economic Community of the Great Lakes Countries (CEPGL) states concerning portability of pension benefits. Member states are Burundi, DRC and Rwanda.

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