July 2014 DailyNews; LIVING at Mnyanjani, a suburb in Tanga, Fatuma Omari, a nurse at a local dispensary covers a two kilometre stretch going to work on foot on a daily basis.
She uses a shortcut way to reduce the time she would spend if she was to use the road. Seldom, Fatuma commutes on inter-city buses, because doing so would mean an extra expenditure, considering that she would have to use three different buses to reach her work place.
The young woman, pregnant with her third child, leads a stressful life. Every time you meet her, she looks miserable. One may ask oneself, is it because her husband is jobless?
But another may guess that Fatuma is desperate because earning a meagre salary she has, at the back of her mind, how she is going to meet the costs of delivery of her child.
But now, Fatuma does not have to worry any longer; for her social security fund – Local Authorities Pensions Fund (LAPF) has already decided to rescue her – indeed, not only her, but any expectant mother who is a member of the fund.
Under one of the latest benefit packages offered by the fund – the Maternity Benefit – a woman member who has contributed to the security facility for a continuous period of 24 months qualifies for a grant offered at the rate of 129 per cent of her basic salary for a live birth.
“A woman member delivering a live birth today is immediately granted the loot – in cash”, says Simboninsia Ndossi, a LAPF Benefit Officer. Ms Ndossi told the ‘Daily News’ at the Association of Local Authorities Tanzania(ALAT) pavilion that the benefit – a unique privilege within the social security benefits- was aimed at restoring the lost energy during delivery.
“The money we pay to women delivering is aimed at keeping the beneficiaries fit, even after delivery, so that when she comes back to work, her productivity is not affected,” said Ms Ndossi.
“Naturally, when a woman delivers, she becomes rather weak, somehow, so there lies the problem because unless she has financial muscles enough to take care of her self throughout the lactating period, she will definitely not become as productive as she was when she goes back to work.
” She adds, “Considering the situation, we chip in and take care of her maternal needs throughout.”Ms Ndossi explains that such woman may qualify for another similar grant after expiry of three years.
“Our grant, which is non-refundable, not deducted from not only her salary but even her terminal benefits on retirement, is completely a free offer.”
House Loan, another benefit paid to stakeholders is another package cherished by beneficiaries of the facility. A house loan is extended to a member to enable him or her to build or buy a house – at least five years prior to compulsory retirement,” says Ms Ndossi.
The loan is paid at half the expected approximate lump sum on retirement at an interest of 7 per cent, a rate LAPF considers most affordable to its beneficiaries.
“LAPF pays beneficiaries in cash for such loan to avoid accumulation of interest we would have to pay had we routed the grant through financial institutions,” asserts Ms Ndossi.
LAPF Pavilion head, Rajabu Kinande, Northern Zone Manager, told the ‘Daily News’ at the fund’s pavilion that the fund would soon launch a package under which members who wish to pursue further studies would be given tuition loans.
“The package, which will be launched during the 2014/15 financial year, will be extended to all candidates intending to join any university or college which has accreditation from Tanzania Commission of Universities (TCU).”
Under the comprehensive package, says Kinande, “the first of its kind in social security circles, any member who has contributed to the fund for a continuous period of 24 months, qualifies for the loan.”
Says Kinande, “LAPF shall provide that a member wishing to be considered for the loan is paid 75 per cent of his total contributions.” Repayment is negotiable – in that whereas some beneficiaries may decide to have the deductions for the loan effected through their monthly salaries, others may opt to have the repayment made on completion of courses.
He said the benefit, alien to the country’s security environment, was aimed at enhancing educational standards of its members. “For some time, many workers have been wishing to advance themselves through further studies but cannot do so due to financial problems.” he said.
We are convinced that on completion of respective courses, or members income status will go up, hence improvement in their living standards,” explained the Zonal boss.
Since its inception in 2006, LAPF has engaged its investment in various areas, including real estates, government securities-namely treasury bills and treasury bonds, long term loans and equities-buying of shares from companies.
Others are, according to Salma Mafita, a compliance Officer, bank deposits and Expectant mothers wait for service at a clinic. LAPF women members will now be assured of safe delivery, thanks to a new benefit. Corporate bonds.