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Ipec headache over unclaimed pensions

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THE Insurance and Pensions Commission (Ipec) is seeking a solution to the problem of unclaimed pensions totalling ZW$616.5 million amid plans to transfer the funds to the Master of the High Court for long-term safekeeping.

Speaking to The NewsHawks this week, Ipec commissioner Grace Muradzikwa said thousands of pensioners have not come forward to claim their dues.

“There were 158 863 members with unclaimed benefits to the tune of ZW$616.51 million as at 31 December 2020 compared to 16 191 members who had not claimed their benefits worth
ZW$30.83 million as at 31 December 2019,” Muradzikwa said.

“The significant increase is attributable to the inclusion of previously omitted members and revaluation gains. The benefits that remain unclaimed for five years should be remitted to the Guardian Fund under the Master of High Court where members or beneficiaries can still claim them.”

She said the benefits will be kept in the Guardian Fund for 30 years and, if they are still not claimed, they are then sent to the Consolidated Revenue Fund for use by the state.

Quizzed on other factors contributing to the current trend, Muradzikwa said this could be attributed to a number of factors, which include the fact that an estimated 48% of members with unclaimed benefits date back to 2009 owing to disputed conversion values in the post-dollarisation period.

“Closing the issue of compensation for the pre-2009 period would also address the issue of such unclaimed benefits; migration of the labour force to the diaspora since the turn of the millennium and some non-resident pensioners who have not been claiming their benefits,” explained Muradzikwa.

Lack of awareness on the part of the pension scheme members and their beneficiaries that they are entitled to lodge a claim for such benefits when they fall due coupled with data integrity on the part of pension funds and administrators are among the factors attributed to the current situation.

The Ipec boss highlighted that some of the membership records are too incomplete and shambolic to enable the tracking of beneficiaries of the unclaimed benefits.

She said some beneficiaries could have relocated possibly to their rural homes and it is also possible that others have died, in which case the surviving family should come forward and claim the benefits.

in Zimbabwe have borne the brunt of government’s economic policies which saw them losing out after the hyperinflationary era of 2008 which eroded their savings.

Despite a recommendation by the Justice Smith-led commission of inquiry that insurance policyholders and pensioners directing insurance should compensate for the loss of value suffered, there has been no such redress.— STAFF WRITER

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