Seed capital for GEMS could be increased TO ZWL$200 million

By ZBC Reporter
SEED capital for the Government Employees Mutual Savings fund (GEMS) could be doubled to $200 million to help civil servants start the scheme, which seeks to create wealth during and after the termination of their employment.
Initially, the Government had indicated willingness to provide $100 million for the fund, with civil servants joining the scheme paying 2,5 percent of their pay.
Public Service Commission (PSC) Secretary Ambassador Jonathan Wutawunashe told a Press briefing in Harare yesterday that the Government was considering doubling its start-up payment.
Upon termination of employment, members of the fund could withdraw all their contributions, together with the interest earned.
GEMS is a voluntary scheme which mobilises savings by Government workers to create wealth for the benefit of members while in employment and when they leave work.
Civil servants can also get concessional loans to assist them with wealth creation projects and other requirements.
Civil servants, who will voluntarily join the scheme, will be expected to contribute 2,5 percent of their salary.
Said Ambassador Wutawunashe: “Government has provided seed capital of $100 million with the possibility of the amount being doubled to $200 million to support civil servants by kick-starting the scheme.
“Since GEMS is being launched as a facility for wealth creation, upon the termination of employment members can withdraw the totality of their contribution with accrued interest.
“GEMS is being introduced as part of the expanding portfolio of benefits to support the livelihoods of civil servants.”
Ambassador Wutawunashe said the commission was encouraged by the support given to the scheme and other initiatives by the Office of the President and Cabinet and the Ministry of Finance and Economic Development.
“Appreciation must be recorded for the swift and decisive manner in which Cabinet considered and approved the GEMS initiative, a scheme that fosters a culture of savings,” he said.
“Another separate initiative approved on the same day by Cabinet is the operationalisation of Garrison Shops for the uniformed services, namely Zimbabwe Defence Forces, Zimbabwe Police Service and the Zimbabwe Prisons and Correctional Service to ensure convenient access to reasonably priced commodities.”
The Garrison Shops are based on a self-financing model as they entail the selling of goods to customers.
While uniformed forces benefit from Garrison Shops, the rest of civil servants will access affordable basic goods from Silo Shops.
Logistical arrangements relating to the opening of the Garrison Shops are being worked out.
Civil servants’ representatives yesterday said they were not aware of the GEMS scheme as they were not consulted.
Apex Council chairperson Mrs Cecilia Alexander said: “We have not been formally consulted, so we do not know what kind of an animal it is.
“Such an arrangement should be a product of engagement and the Government should not proceed to implement it without our buy-in.
“In order to follow due processes, we are going to call an urgent National Joint Negotiating Committee meeting so that Government can unpack the intention, framework and how the fund is going to be administered.”
Leader of the College Lecturers Association of Zimbabwe and Apex Council secretary-general Mr David Dzatsunga said they only read about GEMS in the press.
“We do not know whether this is a bank or a micro-financing facility,” he said.
“Government should consult us first before coming up with such a facility when our salaries are not enough to cater for our basics.”