Uche Usim, Abuja
The Executive Secretary, Pension Transitional Arrangement Directorate (PTAD), Dr Chioma Ejikeme, has assured government pensioners on the Direct Benefits Scheme (DBS) that their welfare is important to President Muhammadu Buhari and would not be toyed with.
She gave the assurance at a recent verification exercise in Abuja where retirees were captured on PTAD’s database to make payment of their entitlements quicker and smoother. The PTAD boss also informed the anxious pensioners that they have been accommodated in the new minimum wage arrangement, saying that further advice on the matter was being awaited from the Salaries and Wages Commission.
“The Minimum Wage thing is a given,” she said. “The Salaries and Wages Commission will get back to us to let us know what percentage is accruable to pensioners. We’ve made provision for it in 2020 budget. You’ll get it.”
Ejikeme said the pensioner verification exercise was continuous, and will continue at state offices nationwide, even after the field operations were completed.
“We haven’t completed the exercise and, when we complete, we would give a lead period before we can determine the number of ghost pensioners we have.
“We have a way to know anyone who has passed on. All these are part of ways to clean up our database,” she said.
On the verification procedure proper, she explained: “First of all, you have to get certain documents. For instance, we are interested in your letter of first appointment, letter of confirmation of appointment, letter of last promotion, letter of retirement.
“So, when you bring all these things, you now go through the process. People at the data entry and data recording section would look at what you have written and all of that., from there you go to biometrics.
“From there, you go through quality assurance, from there the checkers who go through it, from there auditing. So, it’s quite a very comprehensive process. And then they get a computation and the kind of software we have now, the computation is done right here on the field. So, immediately we are able to know what the pensioner is going to get; assuming we are owing arrears or anything, it would immediately show with the software,” she explained.
On health insurance for pensioners, the PTAD boss said plans are afoot to launch a comprehensive health insurance scheme for them.
She added that the process will be underway once the database of PTAD was cleaned up.
“Let’s first remove ghost pensioners and then the next thing is working on further welfare for pensioners. As a medical doctor myself, I appreciate the need for that.
“Once you age, there is degeneration of the body and your pocket gets thinner and you can no longer spend as much as you spent when you were younger and working.
“So, that is why we are taking the welfare of pensioners very seriously. We will work closely with the unions on this,” she stated.