By: Kebba AF Touray
Vice President, Dr. Isatou Touray, on Monday moved a bill entitled Public Service Pensions Bill, 2020 otherwise called the Defined Benefit Scheme, which she said, if it is calculated and implemented, will lead to 5 percent of Civil Servants’ Contribution into the scheme generating D173.6 million yearly.
She said: “The 5% civil servants’ contribution is estimated to generate over GMD 173.6 million yearly which will be directly and immediately remitted to consolidate revenue fund. This figure is based on the current staff compliment of the civil service.”
VP Touray explained that the current Public Service Pensions Bill which was enacted in 1950 contains many references and provisions that are no longer applicable to the Gambia.
She said besides the benefits provided by the scheme at retirement are low. According to her, the benefits are too low to maintain a reasonable standard of living for the retirees.
The main reason for the low government pensions is, among others, low pay, since the take home pay of civil servants used to calculate pension benefits including several tax-free allowances, which are not included in the base for computation of pension benefits, Touray added.
According to her, to address the shortcomings, a Pension Actuarial Study was conducted in 2013, which recommended that the Pensions Act 1950, be reviewed and the current non-contributory Pensions Scheme, be replaced by a contributory scheme.
Vice President Touray added: “As part of the civil service reform program, the World Bank provided support to the government of the Gambia, to undertake a review and development of a new Pensions Act.”
According to het, a consultant was recruited and the consultant developed a draft pension’s bill which was validated by all the stakeholders.
She said the effect of the Public Pensions Service Bill, is that the Pensions Act 1950, will be repealed and several new provisions introduced. According to her, the key new features of the new pensions bill which the 1950 pensions act does not provide are payment of retirement benefits within 30 days; the accrual rate has been standardized and thus benefitting lower cadre of staff, introduction of minimum pension and enhanced maximum pension and automatic increase after 4 years.
She said: “Accrued pension is a right under the new legislation. For pensioners who are imprisoned, bankrupt or insolvent, their pensions will not cease, but will be paid to nominated beneficiaries until their status is reversed and administration and management of the scheme will be centralized”.
“The scheme will be funded by government on contributions deducted from individual civil servants”, she said.
She pointed out that the proposed pension’s scheme is a defined benefits scheme as opposed to a defined contribution scheme, adding the scheme sets out the specific benefits that will be availed to the retirees.
She explicated: “The new pensions bill seeks to repeal the 1950 pensions act hence the involvement of the office of the Solicitor General from the inception of the review to date. The Solicitor General participated in the development and finalization of the terms of reference for the consultancy and further participated in the recruitment and selection of the consultant”.