By Momodou Jarju
Dozens of pensioners have expressed dissatisfaction over unpaid pension drawbacks, and demanded explanation from the Social Security and Housing Finance Corporation (SSHFC).
They warned that if the relevant authority fails to adhere to their demands in a fortnight, they will demonstrate.
The pensioners made this demand last Friday March 22nd 2019, at the headquarters of SSHFC in Banjul when they went to receive their pension payments.
The pensioners said they only received 13 months of the 9 year drawback payments they were supposed to get. According to them, the 13 months pension drawback payments were received together with their February pension payments, last month.
Mr. Pa Eddi Mbaye, a pensioner, said at first they were paid D50 as pensioner for three years; adding that this was later adjusted to D150 for three years, then to D300, D550, D700 and now D900, with the latter adjustment made in 2011.
Mbaye said they never had drawbacks since then until after the Minister of Finance stated in the 2019 budget speech that there will be a 100% increment for pensioners in their allowances, starting January 2019, when D300 was added to make the whole amount D1, 200.
“So we see to it that what we were supposed to be paid as our drawback is far below the amount,” he said. The pensioners complained that every three years, they were supposed to be paid drawbacks, but that for the past nine years, this has never happened.
Pa Lamin Sanyang, another pensioner, said the 13 months of drawback payments paid to them last month, amounted to D5,110; but were concerned with the unpaid drawbacks for the past nine years too.
Demba Ndow, another pensioner, said there is an organization in UK that usually sends money to SSHF for pensioners every three years; that they have been asking for this money to no avail.
“That’s the money we are after. They have paid 13 months so we are asking for the remaining months in nine years. Nine years they only gave us 13 months,” he said.
Gim Shona, a pensioner from NAWEC said every three years, they used to have increment from Social Security/UK; but that this was cut off during the regime of former President Jammeh.
He said they need these payments because what they receive per month is very small; that some of them receive as low as D1, 210 despite the increment.
When contacted for comments, the Senior Public Relations Officer of the SSHFC Sulayman Nyassi, said the pensioners have missed the point.
“They talked about Social Security in UK sending money here. No. We have our actuaries who advise us every three years, to carry out a study on our funds. They create a pension scheme where pensioners’ drawbacks are paid,’’ he said.
“Normally, when anybody has won a bid, we have to make it open so that they will apply for consultancy services on actuaries. So this is the case,” he explained.
He further said very soon they would organize a press conference where the media will be invited and all the concerns of pensioners will be raised and explained, with other matters associated to their authority.
“We have paid them drawbacks from January 2018 to January 2019, and as I am talking to you, I am sure all pensioners have received their drawbacks except those who are paid on quarterly basis. If one is paid on a quarterly basis that means one cannot get their pension until end of March. People who receive cash come to the head office and receive their money. But those at the banks have been paid in their respective accounts.”