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newtimes - 14 days ago

Rwf2 billion saved into informal sector pension scheme

More than Rwf2 billion has been saved into EjoHeza long-term savings scheme, the Minister of Finance and Economic Planning has said. Uzziel Ndagijimana provided the statistics on May 21, while presenting the budget framework paper and midterm budget estimates for 2020/2021 - 2022/2023. EjoHeza is a pension scheme intended to improve the welfare, especially, of workers in the informal sector once they retire as a result of old age, debilitating diseases or accidents resulting from occupational hazards. The scheme was launched in December 2018. “More than 400,000 people have subscribed to EJoHeza, and more than 200,000 of them have contributed over Rwf2 billion to it,” Minister Ndagijimana said. MPs seek more savings into ‘EjoHeza’ MP Marie Therese Murekatete lauded the initiative, but called for scaling up efforts to encourage Rwandans to make savings into the scheme. MP Anitha Mutesi wanted to know whether there are long-term strategies such as compulsory saving into the EjoHeza scheme especially for people who get wages in the informal sector. “In fact, savings culture in Rwanda is poor. If there is compulsory saving such that small amount would be deducted from workers’ salary and gets saved [into EjoHeza scheme], that can be helpful,” she said. Ndagijimana said that talks have been held about such a subject, but no final decision has been taken. “Until now, people are being encouraged to make voluntary savings. However, consultations will continue to consider whether salaried people can be helped to make savings on a sustained basis,” he said. MPs commended the life insurance of the scheme whereby if its member unfortunately dies, Rwf250, 000 is spent on their funeral service, and their family gets Rwf1 million indemnity. When people who earn wages in the informal sector are unable to work due to old age, injury or disease that leaves them with a permanent disability, their living standards are at risk. Only 8 per cent of the 5.4 million active Rwandans in the working age bracket have access to long-term saving through pension schemes. Those are people employed in the formal sector such as public servants, and staff with contracts and fixed salary in the private sector. The remaining 92 per cent, who include motorcycle taxi operators, drivers, masons, farmers and people engaged in handcrafts business, have been excluded from pension schemes. Speaking at EjoHeza launch in December 2018 during Umushyikirano, Ndagijimana said that EjoHeza gives all Rwandans, especially those with little means, easy ways to make savings and get entitled to a monthly pension in their old days. The savings, he added, can also be used as a guarantee to acquire bank loans, informing that the government will also be topping up for needy people who have contributed to that initiative. Ndagijimana said that a study carried out indicated that it is projected that the initiative will have reached 2 million people with estimated savings of about Rwf195 billion within five years.


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