The Government has moved to improve financial welfare for civil servants through the recently established $75 million Government Employees Mutual Savings (GEMS) fund.
The fund is aimed at improving civil servants’ livelihoods through flexible personal loans for their needs like home improvements, solar electrification, borehole installation, property acquisition, livestock rearing, short-term requirements and school fees.
The Public Service Commission (PSC) this week announced the launch of the employees’ mutual savings fund.
“Treasury has already provided an initial $75 million as seed capital for the GEMS Fund,” said PSC in a statement. “Monthly contributions from willing Government employees, at 2,5 percent of gross salary, will now complete the launch of the fund.”
PSC said after an initial three months’ accrual of contributions, members wishing to access short to medium term loans could submit applications through their heads of ministries and departments.
“A nominal lending rate of 10 percent per annum has been set, with the expectation that lending thresholds will range between that rate and 15 percent per annum depending on the actual amount applied for and the desired repayment period,” the PSC.
After the employer’s injection of seed capital, deductions through the Salary Service Bureau will commence on the February 2021 pay sheets, but this will be on voluntary basis.
“While the expectation is that all civil servants will recognise the benefits of subscribing to the GEMS Fund, membership is entirely voluntary, and those not wishing to participate can exercise their right to opt out of the scheme,” said PSC.
“Contributory membership of the GEMS Fund is open to other categories of public servants. For the avoidance of doubt, Government workers other than civil servants can opt in by applying to the Secretary to the Public Service Commission.”
PSC secretary Ambassador Jonathan Wutawunashe explained the revolving fund, saying it was meant to cushion the Government employees.
“In cognisance of the need to cushion its workers and in preparation for a rainy day which can come for any one of us at any unexpected time, Government has set up the Government Employees Mutual Savings (GEMS) Fund,” he said.
“This resource-pooling scheme is aimed at creating a revolving fund which civil servants, who voluntarily choose to participate in it, can access at their time of need at concessionary rates far below the prevailing market rates and way better than loan shark rates.
“GEMS loans can be used for any projects or need of the civil servants’ choice.”
Amb Wutawunashe said the fund fed into the Government’s blueprints, which were aimed at improving the lives of the public servants.
“GEMS is one of many of Government’s programmes on the Pay and Benefits Reforms aimed at improving the general welfare of the civil servants within the greater context of Vision 2030 and National Development Strategy 1,” he said.
“Besides GEMS, Government has other non-monetary benefits such as housing schemes that are also accessible to civil servants to ensure that they have a roof over their heads.”