The Council of Churches in Zambia (CCZ) is urging the Ministry of Finance to consider liquidating the government’s domestic debt caused by non-payment of longstanding pensioners and retirees in next year’s budget.
“We are calling for a pro-poor budget that not only allocates money to labour intensive infrastructure development projects, but makes sure that all pensioners and retirees are paid their dues on time so that they can invest their pensions and live a dignified after work life in the budget to be presented,” said Rev. Suzanne Matale.
The Council would like to see pensioners and retirees, many of whom have been waiting for their money for years paid off to allow them send their children to school and engage in meaningful after work economic activities.
The Council believes that by paying the pensioners on time, the government would be injecting money into the domestic economy thereby positively growing the economy and improving the lives of ordinary poor Zambians.
“Whilst efforts have been made to settle our foreign debts, we have forgotten the former Zambian worker who year in and year out is always demonstrating before government offices for his or her benefits to be paid,” said Rev. Matale.
CCZ is worried that a bad culture of not paying off pensioners and retirees is turning them into destitutes that have dedicated their entire lives to working for Zambia and have contributed to the country’s growth.
CCZ believes that the best way of stimulating the local economy and creating local jobs is to make sure that Zambians have access to their cash on time so that they can use it to invest into their desired business ventures.
“By holding on to pensioners’ payments, a large number of Zambians are now being denied a chance to live dignified lives in our communities. We call for a deliberate effort to attend to this problem and make sure that retirees are afforded a dignified after work life,” advised Rev. Matale.
CCZ is this month dedicating their programmes and prayers to all pensioners and retirees that have not yet been paid their benefits so that they can receive their benefits on time. CCZ is also praying for the families that depend on these pensioners so that these can find strength and resiliency as they wait for the government to pay them.