The Star (Nairobi)

6 July 2013

Kenya: Kambi, Atwoli Differ Over NSSF Board Gender Bias

LABOUR Cabinet Secretary Kazungu Kambi yesterday disagreed with Cotu boss Francis Atwoli over the National Social Security Fund's board of trustees.

Kambi said the board does not meet the constitution's requirements on gender balance.

Speaking during the opening of a retreat to review the NSSF Bill 2013 in Mombasa, Kazungu said he may be forced to reconstitute the board.

"The constitution has a clear gender rule. I will ensure that it is followed by correcting this mistake sooner rather than later," Kambi said.

However, Atwoli said there are two women board members. He said there is a vacancy that they plan to hire a woman to fill.

"We will be gender sensitive. We have respect for the law," Atwoli said.

The board has nine members. Jackline Mugo and Beatrice Kituyi are the only female members.

Kambi called on Parliament to pass the NSSF Bill once it is tabled for debate.

He said the bill will expand NSSF's mandate and increase revenue collection.

Currently, NSSF collects Sh600 million per month.

Kambi said with the new bill will increase the monthly revenue to Sh6billion.

Homa Bay women's representative Gladys Wanga however said the improved revenue may lead to graft.

He said the new bill might provide an avenue for people to swindle money due to the huge amount of money involved.

"We have seen a lot of corruption with the little money that NSSF has been collecting. We need to discuss this properly to seal loopholes," Wanga said.

The bill has opposed by private pension schemes which claim that they will be forced out of business.

Employers say they may also be forced to make more deductions on salaries event though they have internal compulsory social security schemes for their staff.

If passed, the bill will require employers to remit up to 12 per cent of employees' basic pay.

Kazungu said though the NSSF has been recognised as one of the social security vehicles it needs to widen its reach.

"Currently very few Kenyans are covered by NSSF and the benefits provided by the fund are generally inadequate," he said.

He said NSSF has 1.5 million members yet the formal and informal sectors each have a labour force of 14 million people.

Kazungu said low contributions (around 1.3 per cent of average earnings) and an income replacement rate of 7.5 per cent do not meet the 40 per cent benchmark set internationally for pension schemes.

National Assembly Leader of Majority Aden Duale said the biggest undoing of the fund has been its poor investments.

"NSSF is not doing well in investment. The new bill must address this so that retirees enjoy their retirement ion harmony," he said.

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