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GOVERNMENT workers subscribing to scandal-hit Premier Service Medial Aid Society (PSMAS) are being short-changed as it emerged that Government is not remitting monthly contributions to the scheme.

Civil servants make up the bulk of PSMAS membership and legislators warned that government’s failure to remit medical aid contributions was putting the lives of many people at risk.

The government has been forced to defer pay dates for its 230,000 workforce again this month in a development observers said shows the administration is facing serious financial problems.

Finance Minister Patrick Chinamasa admitted in Parliament Wednesday that although government was deducting from its civil servants medical aid subscriptions it was not remitting to PSMAS, citing plunder of resources by top management through “obscene” salaries.

Chinamasa was responding to a question from MDC-T Bulawayo MP, Ruth Labode, chairperson for Parliament’s Health committee.

Labode said several medical doctors and health institutions had written to her indicating that PSMAS was failing to pay health service providers owing to non-remittance of subscriptions by the Government.

Other MPs also said the government was risking the lives of members by not remitting the medical aid contributions but Chinamasa insisted that until sanity was restored not cent would be paid to PSMAS.

“We should be congratulated for bringing sanity and rooting out corruption in that organisation,” Chinamasa said much to hilarity from the floor with some MPs shouting that he was heartless.

“We stopped putting finances there until we get its books clean and government has seconded its staff to ensure that its books are clean and that is when we shall start putting our money there.”

Looting of resources was unearthed last year with fired Chief executive officer Cuthbert Dube exposed of taking home not less than $500,000 while the firm was not paying service providers.

According to Labode told the national assembly that most doctors were turning away patients on PSMAS resulting in “unnecessary deaths”.

“I understand what the honourable minister is saying, but I am worried that people are dying while government is busy trying to clean the mess, what are the immediate measures put in place? Labode asked.

“The medical practitioners have written to my committee (Health and Child Welfare) indicating that they are no longer accepting PSMAS members what is government doing about it,” she said.

In his response, Chinamasa said, “We are attending to that issue but it must be noted that we are trying to clear all issues and then we put our money where we have confidence on.”

After being pressed by other MPs who included the vocal Thabitha Khumalo and Willas Madzimure, Chinamasa had to be remorseful in his responses saying “We are going to attend to the issues being raised”.

Civil servants constitute the largest membership for PSMAS.

“Now that the minister has admitted that they are not remitting subscriptions to government, where is the money going to and who is benefiting from that money? Madzimure asked.

Chinamsa said government should not be blamed for the mess at PSMAS where previous management looted funds through massive pay packages.

“I detect a sense that the whole blame is now being heaped on Government. It’s not correct. But clearly we will address that issue,” he said.

“We have demonstrated our commitment to the future of it by rooting up the corruption that was there and restructuring management.

“Government has seconded its staff to start cleaning the finances of PSMAS and we hope that, once this exercise is complete, we will be able to put money on it.”

Source : New Zimbabwe