Old age pensioners not paid since April

Old age pensioners not paid since April

MASERU – OLD age pensioners in Semenanyana in the Semena constituency in Thaba-Tseka say they have not been paid since April.
Semenanyana lies in a mountainous region of Thaba-Tseka that is very hard to reach. Villagers have to walk long distances to get to pay points every month.
Some have to cross deep gorges and rivers to reach the pay points.

The Minister of Finance Dr Moeketsi Majoro said he knew about the payment arrears for Semenanyane constituency.
Dr Majoro said the ministry depends on Lesotho Defence Force helicopters for their staff to deliver the pension payouts to those villagers.
“In the last two months the aircraft has been out of services and requires significant maintenance,” Dr Majoro said.

“Last week it became clear that the aircraft was not going to be ready on time and I directed my officials to examine other options.”
Dr Majoro said the pensioners who have not received their money will receive all their outstanding arrears as soon as next Monday.
“Because of these logistical difficulties, we are also considering paying a few months in advance,” he said.

He said this will give them the space to recover from lack of transport.
He said they had approached the Matekane Group of Companies to provide their helicopter to deliver the payouts.
Dr Majoro said the issue of “ghost” pensioners has dogged the old age pension scheme for years. He said the ministry had over the last two years managed to weed out 3 000 ghost pensioners from the payroll.

He however said the ministry had so far lost an estimated M25.2 million on ghost pensioners.
Dr Majoro said the social security scheme was one of most important social grants programme that had brought back dignity for the elderly people.
“Governments must work very hard to preserve this programme and extend its reach,” he said.

He said this will not only be honored because it’s a political commitment but also because there is also a dire need.
“At the same time we must be extremely careful not to create an unsustainable scheme,” he said.
He said the current scheme costs about M700 million a year.

Majoro said any move to lower the age to which pensioners would be eligible for the scheme to 60 as Prime Minister Thomas Thabane promised in his election campaign “would more than triple the cost”.

“It requires careful planning and a more robust economy,” he said.
The MP for Semena constituency, Development Planning Minister Tlohelang Aumane, said delays in disbursing the money sometimes happen because the financial year for the pension scheme starts in May. “So it sometimes happens that they get their money for April in May,” he said.

Refiloe Mpobole

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