PSMI workers unpaid for three months

Tendai Makaripe
PREMIER Service Medical Investments (PSMI) employees have gone for three months without salaries following a major dip in the organisation’s revenue inflows.
PSMI workers who opened up to the Financial Gazette this week said they were finding it hard to put food on the table but are staying put because, in as much as they are unhappy with the status quo, they do not have any immediate options if they leave their jobs.
Despite there being very little light at the end of the tunnel, the workers have remained hopeful that management would soon find a lasting solution to the crisis spawned by the country’s worsening economic climate.
PSMI is a subsidiary of Premier Service Medical Aid Society (PSMAS), which has of late hogged the limelight for all the wrong reasons.
Recent reports indicate that PSMAS’ debt with service providers has ballooned to about US$140 million from US$38 million over the past few months, with those owed now seeking legal recourse.
The situation at PSMAS has been compounded by the fact that Treasury has not been disbursing money deducted from civil servants’ as contributions to the society’s health fund owing to the liquidity crunch blighting government.
Civil servants constitute the majority of the over 850 000 members of the health insurer, which has branches across the country and the region.
Business development and customer relations manager, Nhamo Marandu, admitted this week that PSMI was facing financial constraints.
“It is true that we are lagging behind in the payment of salaries as the institution battles the prevailing liquidity crunch that is bedevilling most institutions, a situation not peculiar to PSMI.
“As you are aware, almost all medical health funders are struggling to meet their claims obligations as the liquidity crunch has not spared any institution.
“Unfortunately, these medial health funders are our main source of revenue. To date we are owed a total of US$46 million by medical aid societies alone. If these funds are to be paid today, all our liquidity challenges would be a thing of the past,” he said.
Marandu said PSMI is doing all it can to make sure employees get their salaries and currently they have put in place various strategies to help workers.
“We, however, continue to do all we can to keep the ship afloat. Special emphasis is on stocks and staff as we deploy such strategies as school fees assistance, fuel allowances, transport allowances and compassionate circumstances assistance. We therefore continue to dialogue with all stakeholders and it is our hope that, as a nation, we are soon to finds a lasting solution to the liquidity crunch,” he said.
Zimbabwe’s health sector has deteriorated over the years.
The country’s deepening economic crisis is severely affecting the government’s ability to fund public health delivery and restricting poor people’s access to health care.
“It is not surprising that people’s right to health has been compromised by the state of the economy.
“Health services are suffering a funding deficit because of the current economic crisis, which has worsened in the post-Government of National Unity period,” said economist John Robertson.