Workers in the informal sector have been living hand-to-mouth for decades with hardly any hope of saving for the future.
Joining a pension scheme was not even worth thinking about– they were out of the equation as the sole pensions body, Rwanda Social Security Board (RSSB), only catered for salaried employees in the public and private sectors who accounted for less than 10 per cent.
Getting access to affordable medical care was also a pipe dream before the advent of the community health insurance, Mutuelle de Sante. Now, all that is about to change, especially for the most vulnerable.
Casual labourers will be the biggest beneficiaries as they will now not only get a means to save their wages, a window for getting into an official pension scheme will be opened.
Depending on the social stratification of vulnerability (Ubudehe), if a person in the lowest category (one) can manage to save Rwf12,000 a year, the Government will top up an equal amount. Other categories will also get incentives but the most important is that their savings will be tax free and could also be used as collateral.
In case of death, the family of those who will have subscribed to the scheme will receive an indemnity of Rwf1 million and Rwf250,000 in burial fees.
This is truly a milestone that can be put in the same category as the universal health scheme which will not only encourage long-term savings, but at least the lowest person on the social ladder will be assured of a dignified retirement.
This is yet another trail-blazing initiative that has the people’s welfare as a priority; the only thing remaining is widespread sensitisation campaigns so that the people fully understand the benefits.