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GIPF weeds out "ghost" pensioners.

The country's leading pension fund, Government Institutions Pension Fund (GIPF), has embarked on a three-month project to identify and verify all pensioners in a move expected to weed out "ghost" pensioners.

The exercise will see all GIPF pensioners, spouses of pensioners and orphans, visit identification and verification centres at GIPF or Nampost offices countrywide to have their fingerprints taken through a system called fingerprint biometric identification system . The exercise will last until the end of February 2012.

With the introduction of the new system, GIPF said it has discontinued the old method of asking pensioners to submit certificates of existence as a method to identify and verify pensioners.

The fund said the new move will not only result in superior customer services to pensioners but was meant to ensure acceptable levels of data integrity

"We found this system (old system) to be outdated and inefficient. We live in an era that demands innovation and ability to keep pace with technology.

"In this regard we are not only providing superior customer services to our pensioners but we are indeed observing fiduciary obligations of ensuring acceptable levels of data integrity for the fund," said Elvis Nashilongo, manager corporate communication at GIPF.

He added that the new identification system provides improved security to the fund's pensioners as no one else would be able to use the biometric cards to receive money.

Although, according to Nashilongo, no fraudulent activities were detected by the fund as a result of the old system, the fund was of the opinion that the new system was the best way forward.

"It should be understood that the sustainability of a pension fund depends on many factors including the ability to keep cleaning data and removing ghost pensioners from the data base. Without this exercise the fund would be making perpetual payments of pensions to people who might have already passed on, a situation that exerts huge financial risks and limits the fund's ability to meet its future obligations."

He added: " It's also a requirement of the rules that states that trustees have to verify that a pensioner is still alive for the purpose of paying out a pension. Our system was too old. No system can be kept forever."

Under the new system, family members of pensioners who will not be able to reach verification centres due to old age or acute ailments should contact GIPF offices so that arrangements can be made to have these pensioners verified.

By Nyasha Francis Nyaungwa

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Author:Nyaungwa, Nyasha Francis
Publication:Namibia Economist (Windhoek, Namibia)
Date:Nov 18, 2011
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