‘Probe retirees benefits plunder’

By Nation Reporter

REVELATIONS that the Public Service Pensions Fund (PSPF) board of directors held 71 board meetings between January and November in 2015 in which more than K2.5 million was spent in sitting allowances are not only shocking but call for a probe into the matter to clear suspicions that the fund was being plundered, Leonard Hikaumba has said.

He said there was immediate need for senior officers at PSPF and their board members to explain how K2.5 million was spent on sitting allowances on officers who had jobs at the expense of the many retirees who could not get their money on account of non-availability of funds.

Mr Hikaumba who is former Zambia Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) president said senior officers and their board of directors should have been conscious about their expenses considering that many retirees had not been paid because the Fund did not have money.

He said it would be difficult for pensioners to understand why they were not being paid fully and in time when board members and their senior officials at PSPF were having unlimited number of meetings in which they were heftily paying themselves allowances which rose in excess of K2.5 million.

Mr Hikaumba said the PSPF board should clearly explain how it could have more than 70 board meetings in less than 52 weeks in which more than K2.5 million was paid off in what they termed sitting allowances for extraordinary and administrative staff meetings, extraordinary board meetings, and ordinary board meetings as well as imprest and fuel allowances.

According to documents obtained by the Daily Nation, the fund has been spending between K28, 000 and K56,000 on board members per sitting and the board of directors could in some instances hold eight board meetings in one month. The documents also indicate that in January 2015 the PSPF board of directors attended eight board meetings for which a total of K291,200 was spent while in the month of February of the same year, another eight board meetings were held and more than K300,000 was gobbled.

“When there is a board at any institution, there is need for the directors to be cost conscious not to spend too much money on board meetings. There could be extraordinary meetings in some cases but they should be mindful of how to utilize the resources. When you have 52 weeks in a year and there is a board of directors holding meetings more than 70 times, then there is need to demand for accountability because pensioners will refuse to understand why they should not be paid in full and in time on account of money not being available,” Mr Hikaumba said.

He said beneficiaries would have valid reason to suspect that their money was being shared or wasted considering the frequency of the meetings the board held in less than one yesr.

He stated that it was important to ensure that issues of accountability were taken into account and that the board of directors at PSPF should have been more prudent, economic both in resources and time.

He explained that if there were challenges at PSPF that needed emergency extraordinary meetings, such issues should have been clearly stated to avoid creating an environment of suspicion among retirees and the workers in general.

Yesterday, workers at PSPF exposed a money making racket in which the board of directors are plundering retirees’ benefits with 2015 alone recording the syphoning of K2.5 million through frequent hefty sitting allowances, imprest and duty allowances among many other payments in unclear circumstances.

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