Giant social insurer unveils plans to grow its coverage as it targets more workers in the informal economy
By George Gichuki
The need for individuals to plan, sacrifice, save and invest for a comfortable retirement ( future) where they can pursue new found interests without passing the burden to their relatives and well wishers cannot be overemphasized. It is against this background that the National Social Security Fund (NSSF) was established fifty four years ago with a clear mandate of securing the lives of Kenyan workers in old age and uncertain times. NSSF recently held its fifth Annual General Meeting (AGM) at the Kenyatta International Convention Centre.
According to its Annual Report and Financial Statements for the period ending 30th June 2017, the Fund recorded a surplus of Kshs. 23.89 billion as compared to Kshs. 5.27 billion in 2015/2016. The net asset base by the same token grew from Kshs. 172.09 billion in 2015/2016 to Kshs. 196.57 billion in 2016/2017. This reflected a growth of 14%.
NSSF has a countrywide branch network of sixty. It also operates at virtually all the Huduma Centres in Kenya – which are visited by citizens seeking to have various services from the government.
Speaking during the colourful event, the acting managing trustee and chief executive of NSSF Dr. Anthony Omerikwa emphasized that the Fund is keen on guaranteeing its members income security in the event of socio-economic risks and contingencies.
“We want to have a presence and a voice as near as possible to your working areas,” he told the members.
To start with, Dr. Omerikwa highlighted that the Fund is the first public sector organization in Kenya and regionally to implement an integrated management system (IMS). “The system is a re-engineering initiative that will position us among organizations embracing best practices for business efficiency, information security, knowledge management and customer satisfaction,” he said.
Another achievement is that NSSF has introduced several e-based services. The services are tailor made to the diversified needs of the social security industry especially for workers in the informal economy. Moreover, in order to effectively accommodate the social security needs of the informal economy, NSSF has introduced various technology services like online registration, filing of returns, checking of members’ statements and payment through M-Pesa services.
He also highlighted that in line with the NSSF Act Number 45 of 2013, the management is committed to ensuring that the Fund is financially stable and sound. They have therefore put in place a risk management architecture that proactively identifies and mitigates the risks faced by the Fund.
On his part, General (retired) Dr. Julius Karangi observed that the number of uncovered workers in Kenya is fast growing. “Out of a recorded total employment of 17.873 million (2.917 million in the formal and 14.865 million in the informal economy), the NSSF is only covering 2.550 million, which is an equivalent of 14.27%,” Dr. Karangi said. It is in that regard that the NSSF Act No. 45 of 2013 was assented to law by the President of Kenya on 24th December 2013. Its implementation commenced on 10th January 2014.
The Act establishes pension and provident funds. The pension fund is mandatory and it covers all workers in the formal economy. The provident fund on the other hand is voluntary and it covers the self employed. However, since the 2014 commencement date, NSSF’s Board of Trustees has not fully implemented the 2014-2019 strategic plan under the new Act owing to a number of challenges. “With good and careful husbandry, we hope to fully implement NSSF Act number 45 of 2013, by the end of 2019,” said Dr. Karangi.
Further, he said that the Board of Trustees is planning to develop a housing estate in Kisumu, a mixed use development project in Machakos town and a large scale integrated housing development in Mavoko among others. “All these developments are aligned to the government’s affordable housing agenda under the Big 4 Framework,” he emphasized.
NSSF is also planning to launch a product that will target the informal economy, once the necessary arrangements are ready and upon receipt of an approval letter from the Retirement Benefits Authority (RBA). “My ministry is happy to note that in response to the Government’s directive during the 2018 Kenya Social Protection week, the Board of NSSF in partnership with RBA is soon to launch an innovative and incentivized product for the informal economy workers,” said Hon. Ukur Yatani, Cabinet Secretary, ministry of labour and social protection. Others plans according to the Managing Trustee include the implementation of a new corporate strategic plan and a new organizational structure.