Dienda wants dormant social funds clauses activated

Popular Democratic Movement (PDM) legislator Elma Dienda wants clauses in the Social Security Act of 1994 activated to make provision a pension fund, death and sick leave benefits, maternity leave for all female employees among others.

Dienda also wants the current Act to be amended in order to make room for paternity leave for male employees, adoption benefits and an unemployment insurance fund.

The lawmaker made these submissions in a motion she tabled in the National Assembly (NA) on Wednesday.

Chief among her concerns, which necessitated the motion is the fact that the majority of Namibians rely on underfunded public health service, hence her call for the establishment of the National Medical Fund.

The fund will be established in line with the Social Security Act of 1994.

It is now 25 years after the adoption of the Social Security Act 34 of 1994 [but this fund remains a pipedream], Dienda said.

In 2011, the government, through the Social Security Commission (SSC) commissioned a study to determine the viability and sustainability of a National Medical Benefit Fund (NMBF).

A fund of this nature would grant the over 80 per cent of the population currently denied quality, affordable health services almost as a direct result of the elitist medical aid funds, whose premiums are suggested to be as much as 15 per cent of the total of low-income workers, she said.

Dienda noted that the implementation of this fund will be a win-win situation as it could benefit previously disadvantaged Namibians.

[Private] medical aid funds would definitely feel threatened by the introduction of the new playing field meant to provide access to proper, affordable healthcare. However, it is important for the government to level the playing field. The common good of all people is a principle must be applied by the government across all sectors, she said.

Dienda also wants a National Pension Fund.

In my view, this establishment is on the basis that many employed Namibians are excluded from retirement fund arrangements and the already existing retirement funds have heavier strings attached that a National Pension Fund as a mandatory contributory and social security pension as far as 1994, she justified.

She wants the current N.dollars 13 000 ceiling per month for a maximum of 12 weeks for fully paid up women on maternity leave to be revisited as it disadvantages women who earn more than the threshold.

The Act in question should also be amended to make provision an adoption benefit and an unemployment insurance fund.

There is a need now more than ever to explore the possibility of establishing an unemployment insurance fund/scheme to shield those falling into involuntary unemployment from sudden exposure to poverty, she said.

Source: Namibia Press Agency