Lilongwe, 14 July, 2020
GOVERNMENT SHOULD CONSIDER A WAIVER ON ACCESS TO PENSION FUNDS; MASS DISTRIBUTION OF FACE MASKS
The Centre for Democracy and Economic Development Initiatives (CDEDI) would like to commend government for scaling up COVID-19 preventive measures aimed at containing further spread of the pandemic.
However, CDEDI is concerned with the serious impact some measures have had on some quarters of the society, particularly the Private School Teachers and workers in the hospitality industry. Since government ordered the closure of both public and private learning institutions on March 23, 2020, and allowed partial operation of some hospitality institutions, many private sector employees have been rendered jobless.
As we commend government for making sure that teachers in the public institutions are getting their dues, on the contrary, teachers working in private institutions and some workers in the hospitality industry stopped getting their salaries in March, and others in April, 2020. This means that these people do not have any source of income to feed their families and let alone pay rentals when their funds are lying idle at the Reserve Bank of Malawi (RBM).
CDEDI is therefore calling upon government to allow Malawians to immediately access all their pension money including employer contribution which can only be accessed after retirement age under section 64 of the Pension Act and employee’s own contribution which can only be accessed after 6 months from the last employment as per section 65 of the Pension Act.
It is a known fact that the circumstances we are in at this moment, are neither the teachers’ fault, nor are they the employers’ fault. The government is only taking precautionary measures by protecting the citizenry, as stipulated in section 13 of the republican constitution.
CDEDI is, therefore, kindly appealing to government through the ministry of finance to introduce a waiver so that the affected employees are able to access their pension funds as one way of mitigating the impact of loss of jobs due to the pandemic.
CDEDI has also welcomed government’s decision to introduce mandatory measures on usage of face masks when accessing services in all public institutions in a bid to contain further spread of the COVID-19 pandemic. We have also noted that commercial banks and some shop owners have adopted the same mandatory measures on usage of face masks. We would like to appeal to the government to ensure that no one is denied such services due to lack of face masks. It should be observed that the introduction of the preventive measures meant an outright job and business cut to many people, so it will be more or less like an insult to ask the very same financially strangled people to buy a mask in order to access public services which in most cases are essential.
CDEDI is therefore appealing to all public and private institutions, including commercial banks to make available face masks right at their doorstep to all the underprivileged people that are seeking service provision but cannot afford to buy the masks. We are also appealing to the government to consider using some of the funds that have been set aside for the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic to buy the face masks to be distributed in all the public institutions.
Lastly, but not the least, CDEDI would like to reiterate its position that government should endeavor to come up with some home grown approaches in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic, and should at all cost avoid the implementation of the copy and paste kind of preventive measures that will only succeed in pushing the poor into an early grave.
CDEDI is a non-partisan, nongovernmental organization that was established in a quest to attain a well-informed and organized citizenry that can ably demand their social and economic rights at the same time hold duty bearers accountable for their actions.
Among many others CDEDI aims at sensitizing the masses on matters of national importance, inculcate the spirit of a peaceful coexistence among people of different ethnic, political and religious affiliations; provide civic education on people’s rights and responsibilities in economic independence and contribution towards national development and lobbying for the electoral law reforms.
CDEDI INTERIM EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR