GOVERNMENT must be commended for ensuring that funds meant to improve the living standards of the people are released.

No one can deny that people are going through hard times with money to meet their daily needs hard to come by.

It is heartening that the government has prioritised the social protection programmes that have a huge bearing on people’s daily lives.

Finance and National Planning Minister, Situmbeko Musokotwane announced yesterday that the 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).

Dr Musokotwane said the K1 billion released to PSPF for pensioners was to safeguard their livelihoods and ensure that the money that they laboured for during their time of service, was in their hands.

The K1 billion released for pensioners should go a long way in easing the plight of those who have been struggling for years to access the money they toiled for.

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Government’s failure in the past to pay pensioners their dues on time has led to many ending up destitute.  It would not surprise anyone if some had even died from depression for not being able to take care of their families.

We just hope that the PSPF would ensure there is transparency in the manner in which the funds would be disbursed to the beneficiaries so that they could re-organise their lives.

Not having access to their benefits made it impossible for the pensioners to invest in any meaningful ventures, not even in farming with the many costs that go with it.

Dr Musokotwane said the 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.

Equally worth noting is the government’s commitment to improving the health sector by releasing K217 million for buying drugs and medical supplies.

The availability of medicines in government hospitals and health centres, particularly in rural areas has always brought pain and anguish among the vulnerable who cannot afford to buy the medicines from private chemists.

Moreover, ensuring that basic medicines are in stock all the time tallies well with the government’s pronouncements to improve health care delivery.

The Social Cash Transfer programme, an important lifeline especially for the aged in rural areas has not been left out with K169 million released while K40 million was for the Food Security Pack Programme.

Although the money might not be enough, it should at least make a difference between life and death.  The nation must never allow any of its citizens to die from hunger.

While the government has done its duty to source for the funds, we hope the disbursing agencies will ensure that the money gets to the intended beneficiaries.

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 citizens, especially unpaid retirees, the poor, and the vulnerable.

Their welfare must be paramount and the implementing agencies should not have any excuses for failure.

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