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Pensions department accused of frustrating payment of retired teachers

Tuesday October 25 2016

Controller of Budget Agnes Odhiambo appearing  before the High Court in Nakuru on October 25, 2016 where she denied claims that her office was frustrating settlement of the Sh42.3 billion salary and pension arrears to the 52,000 retired teachers. PHOTO | JOSEPH OPENDA | NATION MEDIA GROUP

Controller of Budget Agnes Odhiambo appearing before the High Court in Nakuru on October 25, 2016 where she denied claims that her office was frustrating settlement of the Sh42.3 billion salary and pension arrears to the 52,000 retired teachers. PHOTO | JOSEPH OPENDA | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

JOSEPH OPENDA
By JOSEPH OPENDA
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The Controller of Budget has denied that her office has frustrated the settlement Sh42.3 billion salary and pension arrears awarded to 520,000 retired teachers.

Appearing before the High Court in Nakuru on Tuesday, Ms Agnes Odhiambo said the Director of Pensions Shem Nyakutu had misled the court when he said her office was responsible for failing to approve the claim forms.

On the other hand, Lady Justice Janet Mulwa ruled that it was, indeed, the pensions department that was frustrating the payments.

Justice Mulwa said that after lengthy deliberations with both parties, the court established that the pensions department was frustrating the payment efforts.

“It has come out from the deliberations that it is the director of pension that has been frustrating the process of payment to the retired teachers,” she said.

The Controller of Budget had been summoned to appear before the court to respond to the claims made by the pensions director.

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According to Ms Odhiambo, Mr Nyakutu misled the court when he said she had documents to prove that her office has been working on the retirees claim forms.

“We have records showing that we received 474 files in which out of these 298 files were approved for payment while 176 files were returned to the director of pensions due to incomplete documentation,” explained Ms Odhiambo.

The court issued strict deadlines to both the office of the Controller of Budget and the pensions department to effect the payments, failure they will face contempt of court.

Lady Justice Janet Mulwa in her ruling directed the pension’s office to collect all the 1,981 retirees claim forms within two days and process them within three weeks before forwarding them to the Controller of Budget.

The Controller of Budget on the other hand has been directed to process the claims and forward the approved ones to the pensions department for payment within four weeks.

“Upon receipt of the claims, the director of pensions shall pay all, the approved forms to the retired teachers within three weeks from the date of receipt,” directed Justice Mulwa.

The Teachers Service commission claimed to have processed about 1,981 retired teachers’ forms for the 1998 lot.

The retired teachers through their lawyer Dominic Kimatta confirmed to court that they were yet to receive the money.

Mr Kimatta requested the court to reprimand the pension’s office to serve him with the evidence of payment.

Mr Nyakutu who appeared in the court chambers on October 6, was fined Sh200, 000 by the court for disobeying orders requiring him to pay the retired teachers their Sh1.5 billion as part of the Sh42.3 pension arrears approved by the National Assembly.

Through his lawyer Mr Wachira Nguyo, the director of pensions had blamed the Controller of Budget, accusing her of frustrating the payment process by failing to approve the claim forms on time.

Mr Nguyo told the court that his client was complying with court orders since he had already paid the Sh200,000 that he had been fined.

The court had directed that the pension’s office pay at least 300 retirees claims every week after Mr Nyakutu claimed to have the capacity of processing 100 claims per day.

However, when she appeared before the court today, Ms Odhiambo, threw back the blame to the pension’s office, citing its inability to submit the forms for approval.

She claimed that her office had the necessary capacity to process more than 300 claim forms per week and this would have been done had the forms been submitted as claimed.

Mr Nyakutu is also required to personally appear before the court to shed light on the progress of the payment.

Justice Mulwa, however, warned the two agencies against disobeying the court orders saying that they would lead to court actions against them.

The case will be mentioned on December 15.