A Specialist from National Directorate of Pension, Mr. Sebit Benjamin who was in Torit to scrutinize and verify files of pensioners in Eastern Equatoria state said that the process awaits formation of the board of trustees for the national pension funds which is presently under the office of the president of South Sudan.
He said that payment of dues will commence as soon as appointment of a general manager, deputy and other staff are complete.
“We are now here to prepare ourselves. We are actually establishing data and soon payment will start and so we eventually start processing payment to pensioners after formation of the board,” Sebit told the press while for a mission in Torit.
According to him verification of files is being undertaken across the states to enter pensioners’ complete files to the pension information management system (PIMS).
Currently in Eastern Equatoria State, a team from National Ministry of Labour, Public Service and Human Resource Development, is conducting assessment soliciting files belonging to pensioners, gathering data on entitled civil servants from the state, for settlement once the Board is formed by the presidential office in Juba soon.
The National Minister of Finance and Economic Planning shall collect and pay to the Fund (Board) Monthly Contributions deducted from salaries of pensionable employees, together with contributions owed by the applicable Public Institutions, pursuant to the Civil Service Pension Scheme Act, 2012 and other applicable law.
Such Contributions shall be made in accordance with the deadlines and conditions prescribed in pension rules issued by the Fund, and to the bank accounts of the Fund designated for this purpose.
The Pension Fund Act 2012 whose purpose is establish an independent pensions fund to serve as management trustee and to collect contributions, invest assets and calculate and make pensions’ payment as prescribed by the applicable laws of South Sudan, was drafted in accordance with provisions Articles 52, 55(4), 138(3), 166(7) and 169(4) read together with provisions of schedules A, B and C of the Transitional Constitution 2011.
It grants the government legislative competence to determine the terms, conditions of services, duties and rights of employees of the civil service; the power of local government to collect fees; the powers of the government to fund local government, power of local government to build institutional, human, social and economic capacity, develop infrastructures and social services and raise the standard of public service and power of local government to regulate financial and economic planning.
The Act is applied to all pension schemes as prescribed by the applicable laws of South Sudan.
South Sudan civil service pension scheme act 2012 and South Sudan pension funds act 2012 were passed by the national parliament and assented by the president on 27 December 2012.
The purpose of South Sudan pension funds act 2012 is to establish an independent pensions fund to serve as management trustees and to collect contributions, invest assets and calculate, make payment of pensions as prescribed by applicable laws of South Sudan.
Previously eight percent was deducted from each employee monthly salaries while government contributed seventeen percent, making twenty five (25) percent under Sudanese laws. But this changed as South Sudan enacted its own laws.
The new pension law now demands a 5 percent deduction from employees’ monthly pay as government contributes 11 percent to the scheme making a total of 16 percent per month.
He said the system covers employees at all levels of government, except employees of the Bank of South Sudan, organized forces, army, judges, constitutional post holders, legal advisors as well as private sector because they have different systems.
The specialist explained that ministry of labour has already established pension information system through funding from Capacity Building Trust Fund (CBTF) and HTSTP, an international program for supporting pension program in South Sudan.
He said Pension Information Management System will maintain records of all country’s employees and pensioners; collect and reconcile contributions, calculations of the benefits and payment to pensioners/ survivors.
Sebit said by compiling all files of pensioners in Eastern Equatoria, they want to ensure the documents are readily and complete to be entered into system.
He said all incomplete files with missing documents should be completed by individual pensioner or units before submitting them to pension information system in Juba.
Sebit called all retired employees who keep their files in houses and those with missing documents to work hard to avail them to their units.
“Some individuals whose documents are missing from files should be completed by the owners or units,” he said.
The specialist is afraid of gross mismanagement of pension’s deduction in some states.
He attributes the mismanagement to absence of law, saying “we were not collecting the deductions from the states because we lacked powers to collect.”
However, he noted that states which misused pension’s deductions will be made to account for the funds once administrative body of the national pension’s fund is established.
“We are going to ask the states to remit all our money deducted since November 2006 because these moneys belong to individuals,” Sebit promises.
Meanwhile Acting Director of Pensions Department in Eastern Equatoria state Labor Ministry Amoko James has said lack of funds has frustrated pensioners and they have even become reluctant to follow up their files saying this has hindered arrangements to process all files ready since some lack their documents which they are supposed to complete before being taken to Juba.
He encourages pensioners to bring their files for verification and start follow up.
The last retirement of employees in Eastern Equatoria state announced in 2009 but the process was suspended in 2010 due to lack of funds to pay off the identified pensioners.
Mr. Amoko who insists a call for speedy process by the office of the President in Juba on the formation of the board so the victims could quickly get their post service benefits as hundreds of pensioners are already due for pension this year while about 40 of the retirees have been reinstated in to active service because of the delay of their dues for settlement.