By SIMON MUNTEMBA
GOVERNMENT has released K1.46 billion for social protection programmes of which, K1 billion is targeted at paying pensioners under the Public Service Pensions Fund (PSPF).
Minister of Finance and National Planning, Situmbeko Musokotwane said the K1 billion released to PSPF for pensioners was to safeguard their livelihoods and ensure that the money that they labored for during their time of service, was in their hands.
Dr Musokotwane also explained that of the released social protection funds, K217 million was for purchase of drugs and medical supplies, K169 million was for the Social Cash Transfer Programme, and K40 million was for the Food Security Pack Programme (FSPP).
He said in a statement that Government’s objective for the year was to dismantle all historical pension dues owed to retired public service workers and curtail any accumulation of pension arrears, going forward.
He said the funds were financed by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) Special Drawing Rights (SDR), an action aimed at ensuring sustained and continued protection of the poor and the vulnerable in Zambia.
This year, he said, the Social Cash Transfer has been scaled-up, for government and foreign financed portions, by increasing the number of beneficiaries to over one million from less than 885,000 as at end August 2021.
Dr Musokotwane said the transfer value per household has also been increased from K150 in 2021 to K200 per month in 2022, and from K300 to K400 per month in the case of households that have severely disabled members.
He also said the number of FSPP beneficiaries had been increased to 290,000 households from less than 264,000 as at end-August 2021.
The minister said other social protection interventions that would be scaled up this year are the girls’ education and women’s empowerment and livelihood programme, the home-grown school feeding programme, public welfare assistance scheme, and child welfare programme.
He reiterated government’s steadfast commitment to utilization of IMF SDR funds and all other public and donor funds in accordance with prudent fiscal management regulations and guidelines.
Dr Musokowane urged all implementing agencies of the social protection and pensions funds, to ensure that transparent payment systems are deployed to alleviate the hardships endured by our fellow citizens, especially unpaid retires, the poor, and the vulnerable.