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Residents sensitized on retirement benefit schemes

The quest to scale up the number of those registering to save for their retirement has gone a notch higher following the launch of a week-long public sensitisation programme in Kisumu County.

Nyanza Regional Commissioner Flora Mworoa expressed her delight with the move by the Retirement Benefits Authority (RBA) in collaboration with Huduma Kenya to bring their services closer to the people.

“In the past, we have had a lot of challenges with people about retirements and receiving their benefits, and this is what we endeavour to change as a country,” Mworoa said when she presided over the launch on Tuesday.

She added that the service charter of the government requires that retirees receive their benefits within 30 days.

She clarified that the Kenya Kwanza government would like to offer seamless services with properly working systems to its people, where one does not have to know anyone or pay bribes to be served.

Mworoa urged RBA to work tirelessly to offer timely payment of retirees’ benefits to reduce long travels to Nairobi seeking their dues.

Charles Machira, Chief Executive Officer, RBA, said that the initiative is geared towards creating awareness among the public about the much-needed retirement benefits.

“Largely, the reason we are here in Kisumu is to speak and render services to the people. RBA is a regulator of pension funds in Kenya, and currently, we are supervising 1,076 pension funds,” CEO Machira stated.

The pension funds, he revealed, have assets under management crossing Sh1.7 trillion, and currently, the people who are saving for retirement are barely 26 per cent of the entire labour force.

According to RBA data, 74 per cent of the entire labour force does not save for retirement, leaving barely 26 per cent who are saving for the benefits schemes.

“This may spell doom in the latter years if we don’t encourage our people to join this arrangement,” Machira warned.

During the sensitisation week, RBA will also render their services to people who are already members and may have any challenges or complaints about the various pension funds they belong to.

He assured that retirees belonging to any of the pension schemes will be paid within 30 days after undertaking proper documentation.

In addition, they will also primarily focus on solving cases involving retirees who worked and left service but have not been paid their dues.

Machira pointed out that, as regulators of the other schemes, they are keen on ensuring that there is no misappropriation of funds and that they operate within the provisions of the law.

The member’s pension funds, he stressed, should be invested with the view of optimising returns.

“I call upon the media fraternity to join us in these discussions to encourage our people to save when they are able, against when they are economically inactive, to take care of themselves in the latter years,” he emphasised.

The saving culture will adequately propel the desired growth and reduce dependence on our relatives when we are no longer in service.

Some of the challenges that RBA is facing include the fact that the majority of people who are saving for retirement are only those in the formal sector. On the other hand, Machira explains that the informal sector mostly doesn’t save for retirement due to the informality of our labour market.

“In comparison to the 21 million people who have borrowed from the Hustler Fund today, barely four million are saving for the benefit scheme. Where are the remaining 17 million people saving?” He posed as he continued that they would like to incorporate into the scheme those who are excluded from society.

By Vera Okumu and Rolex Omondi

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