For over a decade, the Government has desired to reform social security and healthcare in the country.
This is with good reason. Kenya, with a poverty index of 46 per cent has a huge population with no form of retirement savings or medical insurance.
While currently the country has a relatively young population, the number of old people is increasing rapidly and posing a big challenge to the economy because majority of Kenyans are not preparing for life in retirement.
Already signs of a crisis are visible. First, Government decided to defer what is definitely an eventuality by increasing the retirement age for civil servants to 60 years from 55 due to concerns over increasing liabilities from pension payments to current and future retirees.
Currently, the annual spending bill on pensions for civil servants stands at Sh26 billion and rising fast as more retire every year.
The situation is no better when it comes to medical insurance. The number of Kenyans in formal employment with any form of medical insurance stands at a paltry less than two per cent while majority in the informal sectors dread falling sick.
Despite these realities, efforts to reform the two institutions that can offer majority of Kenyans with any form of social security and healthcare have largely failed due to controversies, selfish interests among players and political interference.
Since their establishment, both the National Social Security Fund ( NSSF) and the National Hospital Insurance Fund (NHIF) have been rocked by corruption, mismanagement and inefficiencies despite holding very critical mandates in the psyche of the nation.
Take the case of NSSF. Although the fund, which controls assets worth over Sh80 billion and collects about Sh7 billion annually from members, is supposed to register, collect and manage contributors’ money, it has the distinction of having been led by eight managing trustees in a span of ten years.
On its part, the NHIF has in recent weeks dominated headlines due allegations of massive looting in cahoots with private clinics in the name of providing medical cover for civil servants, the disciplined forces and the police.
That these institutions are targeted by looters is not news. What is surprising is how they have resisted reforms with bills meant to restructure them, the National Social Security Pension Trust Bill and the National Social Health Insurance Fund, being met with stiff resistance every time they are dusted.
dens of corruption