Maun — Botswana Public Officers Pension Fund (BPOPF) members have been urged to ensure tax compliance in order to avoid delays in enjoying their benefits after retirement.
Speaking during a workshop aimed at apprising heads of departments on the fund's operations, build rapport and share experiences and expectations, BPOPF Maun regional manager, Mr Tibayani Mabalani called on public officers to submit annual returns to Botswana Unified Revenue Services (BURS) on time.
Mr Mabalani said they had observed that a significant number of pension payouts were halted at BURS because members had failed to submit returns even though they had been paying tax.
He pleaded with heads of departments to encourage their subordinates to submit returns without fail, as that would speed up the processing of their pension payments.
He noted that some members delayed to submit because tax receipts were issued late.
Participants were informed that Section 40 of the Retirement Funds Act, 2014 states that the fund should deduct any amount due in terms of the Income Tax Act.
They also learnt that during death, the whole fund credit is paid to dependents and nominees.
Mr Mabalani clarified confusion that members could get their whole sum after retirement, saying that the act allowed the fund to deduct and pay debts such as amounts due to the employer, citing salary advances, training bonds, guaranteed loans, surcharges and judgments obtained against the member in any court, be it maintenance of divorce order.
Participants were also requested to fully utilise the BPOPF Maun office to learn more about pertinent issues regarding the fund and their investments.
Mr Mabalani requested supervisors to accommodate fund officials in their schedules to make presentations to active members, noting that some departments had already started doing that.
He stated that they needed more time to discuss many issues of interest to members.
Departments, he said were also at liberty to invite BPOPF officers to general member education, new employees inductions, wellness days and even staff meetings.
He stated that 80 per cent of the presentations done were mostly initiated by the fund and urged departments to engage the fund.
Mr Mabalani also expressed concern about the low turnout of employees during presentations, revealing that in Ngamiland, they managed to reach 48 per cent in the Maun Administrative Authority, while in Okavango sub-district, they reached 63 per cent.
He also underscored the need to conduct pre-retirement counselling for smooth transition to post-career life.
The exercise, he said was critical as it guided members on factors to consider such as financial obligations, psychological and social impact, income replacement ratio among others.
Supervisors were encouraged to arrange counselling sessions for employees, especially those planning to retire.
Another official from the fund, Ms Tsholofelo Aaron explained that withdrawals from the fund could be made when a member leaves service through resignation, dismissal, retrenchment or redundancy.
A member, she said could be paid a benefit entitlement; maximum of a quarter of fund credit for resignation/dismissal and a maximum of one-third for redundancy/retrenchment or P5 000, whichever is greater.
The balance, she said was deferred and could also be left with the fund until retirement from 45 years or transferred to new employer's pension fund or any legally registered insurance company.
Source : BOPA