17 Apr 2019 14:50pm
WINDHOEK, 17 APR (NAMPA) The Public Service Medical Aid Scheme (PSEMAS) has increased the members contribution only once since Independence, during 2012/2013 - before the latest increase for 2019/2020.
This was mentioned by Finance Minister Calle Schlettwein on Wednesday, when responding to questions emanating from the N.dollars 60.1 billion he tabled in the National Assembly about three weeks ago.
The contribution remained at N.dollars 60 from 1990 to 2012/2013.
The increase was introduced in the form of two options; N.dollars 120 for the standard option and N.dollars 240 for the high option during 2013 for main members.
It is important to note that this scheme which is voluntary is extremely generous when the benefits are compared to the actual cost to the scheme leading to a significant subsidised health care scheme for the public service, Schlettwein highlighted.
The wage bill, which increased from N.dollars 13.9 billion to about N.dollars 29.2 billion, Schlettwein noted, was largely motivated by the re-grading exercise implemented during 2013/2014 and subsequently, salary increases granted to the public servants.
During that period, the employees contribution were not increased but employers were to meet the actual cost of the scheme.
This non-increase is not withstanding the annual increases in medical costs which have been above inflation. Leaving the scheme unchanged will lead to the scheme becoming unsustainable, Schlettwein emphasised.
While tabling the budget, he announced the increment of member contributions to PSEMAS which will be doubled to bring the total contribution from the current N.dollars 410 million to N.dollars 820 million, effective from April 2019.
This comes at a time when the Namibia Public Workers Union (NAPWU) and Namibia National Teachers Union (NANTU) last week condemned the governments decision to increase membership contributions to PSEMAS.
NAPWU general secretary, Petrus Nevonga at a media conference said the increase will not be tolerated, as medical aid contributions are subject to negotiation and the unions were not consulted beforehand as well.
Nevonga also advised union members not to sign any deduction authorisation documents until consultations are held between the members, unions and Government.
On the same day, the Trade Union Congress of Namibia (TUCNA) commenced with consultative meetings that seek an amendment of the National Budget to include the withdrawal of the PSEMAS increment.
PSEMAS covers 95 per cent of medical expenses for public servants and it received a N.dollars 2.8 billion allocation for the 2019/2020 budget.
It covers 130 000 members and 155 000 dependents.