By Kebba Secka/Awa Touray
Rene Geoffrey Michael Renner, president of the Social Security and Housing Finance Corporation’s Pensioners Association, and Antouman Njie, a pensioner, both expressed disappointment and dissatisfaction on the non-payment of their drawbacks, allowances and increment of pension allowances as declared by the Minister of Finance in his budget speech to the nation. According to the duo, the Minister indicated in his budget speech that there will be salary and pension allowance increment for all civil servants and government pensioners effective end of January 2019. Mr Renner in an interview with this reporter, expressed the hope that the current management of SSHFC, will increase their pension allowances after series of engagement with them. “We are informed by management that our pension allowances will be increased but, we are yet to realise any development in relation to this,” said Renner. Asked whether a certain percentage has been promised as increment, Renner answered in the negative and said they are waiting to see what has been promised by the Minister of Finance, in his budget speech. He urged the Corporation to speed up the work on the pensioner’s wage increment as the market price for commodities has increased.
Antouman Njie, a pensioner who retired in 1988, expressed dissatisfaction with the Corporation for not paying their drawbacks and allowances since 2011. He said he can recall the increment of 2011. But that since then, there has not been any payment of draw backs or increment of in pension allowances. “Under normal circumstances, every three years, we should receive drawbacks and an increment of allowances. But since 2011, we have not been paid our drawbacks,” he said. Asked to shed light on their level of engagement with the authorities regarding their drawbacks, Njie said they have made series of engagements with the Corporation’s Management both before and after the change of Government; that during their last meeting with MD Manjang in 2017, they were told that the Corporation had no money to pay them their drawbacks. “When our association met Manjang, things remained the same. No results,” he explained. Asked to clarify further, Njie said there was no improvement in terms of when their arrears would be paid; that MD Manjang categorically told them that there was no money and the Corporation was trying to recover from bankruptcy. Njie complained that in 2018, MD Manjang approved 25% salary increment for SSHFC staff and 10% for their allowances while ignoring the drawbacks and increment for pensioners. He appealed to management to speedily resolve the situation, to enable them better fit in society.
In a similar development, another pensioner by the name Momodou Sowe, on Friday February 1st 2019, walked into the Office of ‘Foroyaa’ Newspaper to complain that the Salary and pension allowance increment indicated by the Minister of Finance in his budget speech, did not reflect in his January pension allowance. Sowe complained that Government did not pay them the 50% increment on their pension allowances for January.
As readers will recall, 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.
Sowe said he was a cook at the Independence Stadium for many years, before he retired. According to Sowe since his retirement, they did not receive any increment, nor heard from the authorities until when the Finance Minister pronounced in his budget speech that civil servants will receive 50% whilst pensioners will receive 100% increment in salaries and allowances respectively. Sowe described the challenges pensioners are faced with as huge and rough; that Government should come up with solutions to provide pensioners with free access to transport, which difficulty they encounter every time they want to receive their allowances; that Government should provide pensioners with access to doctors at state hospitals free of charge, by issuing them with cards.
“We want the authorities to consider our welfare as pensioners since we are human beings like them,’’ he told ‘Foroyaa.’