By Staff Reporter
Following a strategic decision to establish the Government Employees Mutual Savings (GEMS) Fund in order to mobilise mutual savings for government employees, the Government has appointed a Steering Committee aimed at monitoring and ensure that the GEMS Fund achieves its objectives.
In a statement yesterday, the Public Service Commission (PSC) communicated that, “Government has appointed a Steering Committee, which in addition to the Public Service Commission, includes members of the President and Cabinet as well as from Treasury.”
The GEMS Fund was established in February 2020 and is aimed at benefitting government employees during the course of their employment and into their retirement by offering loans and similar products at concessionary rates.
The GEMS Fund will be managed and grown through prudent investment strategies that support the enhancement of the livelihoods of civil servants through affordable loans for home improvements, solar electrification, borehole installation, property acquisition, livestock rearing, short-term requirements like school fees, and so forth.
“The Steering Committee is mandated to operationalize the GEMS Fund in line with the Fund’s Constitution. Treasury has already provided an initial ZWL75 million as seed capital for the GEMS Fund,” the statement further reads.
The PSC highlighted that monthly contribution from willing government employees, at 2.5 percent of gross salary will now complete the launch of the Fund.
After an initial three months accrual of contributions, it has been said, members wishing to access short to medium term loans can submit applications through their Heads of Ministries and Departments.
Conditions have been set when it comes to lending and repayment interest rates.
“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 annum depending on the actual amount applied for and the desired repayment period.”
Pertaining basis of membership, PSC indicated that subscribing to the GEMS Fund is not mandatory for civil servants who feel that they do not want to be involved.
“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.”
Contributory membership of the GEMS Fund, PSC pointed out, 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 PSC.
Concerning commencement of deductions, PSC highlighted that, “The employer’s injection seed capital having been affected, deductions through the Salary Service Bureau will commence on the February 2021 pay sheets.”