2 May 2016

Tanzania: Pension Funds Urged to Invest in Profit-Generating Projects

Dodoma — President John Magufuli has directed pension funds to invest in profit-driven projects, including industries, where profit and employment opportunities will be created instead of focusing on infrastructure development.

Dr Magufuli has also agreed to reduce the number of pension funds, promising to complete the work by 2017, directing the Minister in the Prime Minister's Office (Parliamentary Affairs, Policy, Labour, Employment, Youth and the Disabled), Ms Jenista Mhagama, to start working on the matter.

President Magufuli made the remarks when he led thousands of Tanzanians in joining fellow workers all over the world to celebrate the International Workers' Day, which was held nationally at the Jamhuri Stadium in the new capital city designate.

He said building industries and increasing employment opportunities will provide double profits, including membership from the industrial employees.

"In investing in a culvert, the benefit will be a short-term one as opposed to investing in industries, which will provide long-term benefits and contribute to the growth of the nations' economy through increasing employment opportunities, membership and production of goods," he noted.

Dr Magufuli agreed on the need to scale down the number of pension funds in the country, promising to complete the work within the next one year.

He, however, cautioned that looking at the history that established the pension funds, caution must be taken when scaling down the number of the pension funds, while directing Ms Mhagama, who is responsible with the portfolio, to take up the matter.

The president said that companies that do not remit contributions to pension funds have been directed to do so immediately, noting that even the Treasury had not remitted 710bn/- but have now remitted 500bn/- to the PSPF.

"I am directing the Treasury and other companies to remit the contributions every month." Dr Magufuli stressed that every employee was entitled to join a trade union or form one in their workplaces, which is a right that should not be denied by their employers. He, however, cautioned workers to refrain from using the unions as a political mouthpiece or instrument.

The president expressed his interest to see more people joining pension funds, especially the health insurance fund, noting that the National Health Insurance Fund has established the Community Health Fund (CHF) for rural people.

Dr Magufuli also noted the importance of workers' contracts, noting that the laws governing the work will be amended to include stern measures that should entail heavy penalties for employers who will fail to uphold any part of the requirements of the laws.

Earlier, Trade Union Congress of Tanzania (TUCTA) Secretary General Nicholas Mgaya requested the government to reduce the number of pension funds in the country to two; one serving for the private sector and the other for the public sector. Mr Mgaya said TUCTA believed in the current government in power and hoped that working conditions and remuneration for the majority of workers, who are the main drivers of government revenue, will be improved.

"In this, we recommend to the Fifth Phase government to come up with salary policy that will govern improvements of salaries and allowance for workers in the public and private sector," he said.

Mr Mgaya noted that since the 5th Phase government came into power, hope has been restored among Tanzanian workers, as the government is implementing the rule of law in the country "contrary to what was the case before".

He said in the next five years of the 5th Phase government workers will enjoy better salaries due to ongoing efforts to increase revenue as opposed to previous governments.

Mr Mgaya commended the steps taken by government to rescue the PSFP by paying its debt and for retirees to start receiving their pensions, stressing that pension fund employees should stop giving themselves loans, which they cannot pay back.

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