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Wednesday 01 October 2014

Renders services

 

 

GIPF is the biggest pension fund in Namibia in terms of size, its assets and membership. As at 31 March 2012, its total assets are more than N$50-billion, and its membership is about 80 thousand members and 50 thousand pensioners. It renders services countrywide. Mrs Maria Dax – CEO (Acting)

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GIPF

The biggest pension fund

Nestled in the business centre of Windhoek, the capital city of Namibia, the Government Institutions Pension Fund (GIPF) was established at the end of 1989, marking a new dawn for all Namibians. As a professionally managed pension fund, GIPF continues to strive to be a leading pension fund and a model corporate citizen in Namibia. GIPF is also one of the few fully funded pension funds in Africa that have built up enough funds to cover its liabilities.

 

In addition, GIPF provides an excellent structure of pension benefits that are market related with affordable contribution rates. The employee and the employer fund the pension benefits. These contributions are used to provide the benefits promised in terms of the Rules of the Fund. The core mission of GIPF is to provide the highest level of financial security, efficient accrued pension benefits and deliver exceptional service to all our members and their dependants. GIPF provides retirement benefits to civil servants, who are employees of government and other participating institutions. To date GIPF provides normal retirement, early retirement, resignation, ill health and disability, and retrenchment benefits to its members. GIPF also provides a funeral benefit at no cost to members.

 

GIPF is a defined benefit fund and the benefits are defined in terms of the Rules of the Fund. The benefits are guaranteed as promised irrespective of market performance. The retirement benefits of GIPF are generous. GIPF is one of the few pension funds that cover the whole family; the spouse and children and most benefits are paid for life, regardless of how long an employee lives after retirement or whether he or she becomes disabled or unable to work.

 

GIPF is underwritten by the Employer- this means that should GIPF’s liabilities exceed its assets, the Employer will make good of the shortfall. Should GIPF fail to fulfill its promise to members, the Government of Namibia undertakes to provide all benefits as promised. The fund is managed and controlled by a Board of Trustees that consist of nine members. The Trustees operate within a unitary structure that provides for interaction among all members in the decision making process on strategy, planning, performance, investments, business ethics and communication with stakeholders.

 

Trustees are appointed by the Employer (Government), Unions and the Public Service Commission. Each appointing authority appoints three trustees on the Board. One of the trustees appointed by the Public Service Commission is a pensioner. The main focus of the board is to deal with all aspects of investments and benefits of the fund. The legislated duties of the board, advocated by the Pension Funds Act, are to ensure that the interests of fund members are protected at all times. The board is responsible for the operational activities of the fund as well as to ensure that all fund members’ contributions are paid on time and that the best expert advice is available for the Fund.

 

GIPF is a self-administered fund. Unlike other pension funds that outsource the benefits administration function, the administration of GIPF is done in-house. The growth of the Fund over the past years has shown that both the membership and the number of annuitants has increased gradually. (See graph opposite) The introduction of a Biometrics Identification System to our operational structure added to the customer service improvement. This system aims at registering and issuing smart cards to all the annuitants (retired members, disabled members, spouses and children) receiving a monthly annuity from the Fund. The GIPF’s Smart Card serves as a means of identification to minimise fraud and to ensure that benefits are received by those who are entitled to them. The Biometrics fingerprint Identification system identifies a person by comparing a fingerprint to

information stored on a database. It is an accurate, efficient and highly effective system.

 

 

A field team assists fund members who due to sickness or disability are unable to visit GIPF offices in person to verify their existence. GIPF also has qualified Social Services Consultants to provide support and guidance regarding social circumstances of beneficiaries. They provide pre and post retirement counselling to pensioners and investigate the social circumstances where children or spouses are affected. Social Service Consultants are based in Windhoek but regional offices in Ondangwa, Oshakati, Rundu and Katima Mulilo also offer this service. GIPF has a team of trained and highly experienced client services consultants. They receive and process client enquiries, provide members, pensioners and dependants with relevant information, coordinate problem resolutions and communicating feedback to clients. They are also responsible for seeking legal opinion and launching investigations with regard to problems.

 

Together with social services, efficient operating methods and qualified staff, GIPF ensures that fund members are educated on all fund procedures and benefit claim processes. GIPF is committed to ensure that Human Resources Officers from government ministries and other participating employers Trustees are appointed by the Employer (Government), Unions and the Public Service Commission. Each appointing authority appoints three trustees on the Board. One of the trustees appointed by the Public Service Commission is a pensioner.

 

The main focus of the board is to deal with all aspects of investments and benefits of the fund. The legislated duties of the board, advocated by the Pension Funds Act, are to ensure that the interests of fund members are protected at all times. The board is responsible for the operational activities of the fund as well as to ensure that all fund members’ contributions are paid on time and that the best expert advice is available for the Fund. GIPF is a self-administered fund. Unlike other pension funds that outsource the benefits administration function, the administration of GIPF is done in-house. The growth of the Fund over the past years has shown that both the membership and the number of annuitants has increased gradually. (See graph opposite).

 

The introduction of a Biometrics Identification System to our operational structure added to the customer service improvement. This system aims at registering and issuing smart cards to all the annuitants (retired members, disabled members, spouses and children) receiving a monthly annuity from the Fund. The GIPF’s Smart Card serves as a means of identification to minimise fraud and to ensure that benefits are received by those who are entitled to them. The Biometrics fingerprint Identification system identifies a person by comparing a fingerprint to information stored on a database. It is an accurate, efficient and highly effective system.

 

A field team assists fund members who due to sickness or disability are unable to visit GIPF offices in person to verify their existence. GIPF also has qualified Social Services Consultants to provide support and guidance regarding social circumstances of beneficiaries. They provide pre and post retirement counselling to pensioners and investigate the social circumstances where children or spouses are affected. Social Service Consultants are based in Windhoek but regional offices in Ondangwa, Oshakati, Rundu and Katima Mulilo also offer this service.

 

GIPF has a team of trained and highly experienced client services consultants. They receive and process client enquiries, provide members, pensioners and dependants with relevant information, coordinate problem resolutions and communicating feedback to clients. They are also responsible for seeking legal opinion and launching investigations with regard to problems.

Together with social services, efficient operating methods and qualified staff, GIPF ensures that fund members are educated on all fund procedures and benefit claim processes. GIPF is committed to ensure that Human Resources Officers from government ministries and other participating employers of the Fund understand the Rules of GIPF. Training is carried out at head office to more than 300 HR officers annually, keeping them up-to-date with the claims process and offering a platform for them to clarify issues.

 

Understanding the Rules of the fund and claiming of benefits is one of the key topics. The claims process can only be more efficient once all stakeholders understand the important steps. The processing of claims has been improved to increase turnaround times and efficient processing of claims. The Client Services division at GIPF receives all incoming claims submitted by the Human Resource departments of various member institutions and government.

 

Claims are received and registered by the office administration department who scan and attach the identification and information details of the beneficiary. GIPF strives towards a paperless environment; therefore all member data is first scanned and verified and captured on the system. The documents are then verified to eliminate fraud and errors. Payments are then authentically processed and calculated by the Benefits Administrator. The claim is then reviewed by the Senior Benefits Administrator for any miscalculations and forwarded to the Head Benefits Administrator for approval of payment.

 

At our Head office the claim is checked and approved by a first and second signatory manager before final payment is made. After a thorough review that all information and calculations are correct, payments are then made into the beneficiary’s bank account. Although GIPF aspires towards a paperless environment, the Fund has invested in an efficient and up-to-date method of filing and storing the various files that have been processed over the past years. This is mainly to ensure safekeeping of information. This system is administered by the Records and Data Management division. The fund’s Client Relationship Management system keeps track of all queries and a variety of fund related statistics. Many queries are attended to at the Call Centre which is equipped with a team of multilingual consultants who attend to client queries and follow up on the processing of claims.

 

GIPF has more than eight regional offices situated in Gobabis, Ondangwa, Oshakati, Otjiwarongo, Rundu, Katima Mulilo, Keetmanshoop and Swakopmund who are connected to the Government Institutions Member Information System called GIMIS. The GIMIS’ operation system facilitates the coordination and exchange of all fund member information between Head Office and the regional offices. The regional offices offer full services to all clients including processing and handling of claims queries and registration for Biometrics and verifications.

 

Each and every fund member of GIPF is of fundamental value to the fund. GIPF strives to be a leading pension fund and a model corporate citizen in Namibia by safeguarding and growing the Fund for the benefit of its stakeholders and Namibia. The Fund prides itself in providing real value benefits and sustainable services and to make a meaningful contribution to the economic and social development of Namibia. GIPF – Guaranteeing your pension benefits