Canisius calls pension reform mockery

The pension reforms that the PF government has embarked on without consultations are nothing but a mockery to civil servants, the United Party for National Development  has charged.

The UPND has stated the reforms the government was planning to undertake on the Public Service Pension Scheme constituted an insult to the civil servants and the general citizenry.

UPND vice president for political affairs Canisius Banda said the government’s argument that the pension scheme would now be paid in monthly installments because retirees recklessly spent their constitutional entitlement was to treat retirees as children.

Dr Banda said the Patriotic Front government had no authority over people’s pensions stating that pension should be spent as the retirees deemed fit and that the PF government had no business dictating to retirees how their pension should be spent.

“The extension of the retirement age to 65 years from 55 years in a country whose life expectancy was 37 years was both cruel and ill-informed.

Dr Banda explained in a statement obtained by the Daily Nation that the action by government would not only worsen household poverty but would also worsen youth unemployment.

He said Pension Scheme reforms were a deceptive way by government to avoid the constitutional responsibility that the PF government had to pay pensioners.

He stated that it was sad that the operations of the civil service were now being crippled through the unilateral removal of important allowances which made it possible for civil servants to optimally perform their work.

“Take the case of the Auditor General office, teachers and other civil servants who now work without risk, retention allowances and key scheduled workshops. Recklessly, the money saved is being diverted to maintaining a bloated cabinet of ministers. What kind of government, other than a foolish one, diverts money from developmental plans to paying salaries for its redundant ministers?, Dr Banda said.

Dr Banda said it was important to treat the civil service with the respect that it deserved adding it was the largest formal employer in Zambia.

He said it was saddening to observe that the 200 per cent salary increment which the PF government promised civil servants would end up turning to yet another false pledge by the ruling party.

Dr Banda said in May 2013, the PF government nationally advertised that it would recruit about 5000 teachers this year but this exercise would not happen because the PF government had no money for the vital national undertaking.