Coronavirus (COVID-19) Message

26 March 2020

26 March 2020

Dear GEPF Member

As a result of the national lockdown announced by President Ramaphosa on the 23 March 2020 all GEPF offices will be closed from the 26 March 2020. We expect to reopen offices on the 17 April 2020 subject to no further lockdowns.

The GEPF’s priority in this regard is the health and welfare of our employees, clients and business partners.  It is important that we all commit to implementing the lockdown as required by Government in order to help curb the spread of the virus.

Communication with the GEPF during this period will be via email at enquiries@gepf.co.za

We would further like to encourage our members, pensioners and beneficiaries to comply with the guidelines aimed at protecting themselves and others which include amongst others:

  • Wash your hands frequently with soap and water for at least 20 seconds after going to the bathroom, before eating, after blowing your nose, coughing or sneezing
  • If soap and water are not readily available, use a hand sanitizer with 60% alcohol to clean your hands
  • Avoid close contact with anybody who is sick, maintaining a distance of at least one meter between yourself and the sick person
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth
  • Cover sneezes or coughs with a tissue and dispose of the tissue safely afterwards
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces
  • It is recommended that only infected persons wear masks to avoid spreading the virus

We want to reassure all members, pensioners and beneficiaries that despite the decline on the global equity markets, the GEPF is financially sound. More importantly, as a defined benefit fund, benefits provided by the fund are not dependent on the performance of the fund’s investments.  Your benefit is determined by the number of pensionable service years and your average salary in the last 24 months of your pensionable salary.

Keep healthy and be assured that your benefits are secure.

Kind regards

Abel Sithole

Principal Executive Officer

 

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GEPF pensioners will receive a 3.6% annual pension increase as of 1 April 2020

Date: 02 March 2020

Pretoria – Government Employees Pension Fund (GEPF) announced today that an annual pension increase of 3.6% to its pensioners will effect from 1 April 2020.

Pensioners who retired on or before 1 April 2019 are to be increased with a total increase equal to 100% CPI which is 3.6% over the year to the previous 30 November with effect from 1 April 2020.

Pensioners who retired after 1 April 2019 are to be increased proportionally for each month of retirement between the date of retirement and 31 March 2020, with effect from 1 April 2020.

This pension increase is based on the 3.6% inflation rate for the 12 months ending 30 November 2019 thus making the increase equal to 100% of Consumer Price Index (CPI) and higher than the 75% of Consumer Price Index (CPI) provided in terms of GEP Law and Rules.

The GEPF has granted this increase to enable pensioners to keep up with rises in inflation.

It must be noted that increases which are above what is provided for in GEP Law and Rules is granted at the discretion of the Board taking the Fund’s investment performance into account.

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For more information please contact:

Call Centre: 0800 117 669 Email:

enquiries@gepf.co.za

Twitter: @GEPF_SA

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Government Employees Pension Fund on Eskom Proposal

7 February 2020, Pretoria – The Government Employees Pension Fund (GEPF), has noted the recent media reports including government support as well as public discourse on the statement issued by the Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU) titled, “Key Eskom and Economic Intervention Proposals”.

In the statement, COSATU proposes, “a debt package to reduce Eskom’s debt from R450 billion to R200 billion through a special purpose finance vehicle involving social compact between government, the PIC and DFI’s”.

The GEPF would like to inform its members, pensioners and beneficiaries that the Fund has not received such a proposal nor has it been consulted on the COSATU proposals or any other proposals to reduce Eskom debt.

If the GEPF is approached with a proposal that requires investing in Eskom, such a proposal will be considered on its merits in the best interests of members, pensioners and beneficiaries.

Issued by Government Employees Pension Fund

For more information please contact:

Matau Molapo, Communications division

T: +27 (0) 12 424 7315

M: +27 (0)79 1910 757

E: Matau.molapo@gepf.co.za

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GEPF investments portfolio registers a positive 2.6% growth despite weak SA economy

05/12/2019

Thursday, 5 December 2019. Johannesburg – The Government Employees Pension Fund (GEPF) is pleased to announce its financial results for the year ended 31 March 2019.

Despite the tough economic conditions and low economic growth rate in South Africa, the GEPF had a return on investments of 2.6%, equating to R 47 billion during the 2018/9 financial year. The Fund’s market value of assets was R 1.82 trillion in the year under review, increasing by R 17 billion compared to the previous year.

The growth of the fund’s assets is pleasing as it is in contrast to the collective performance of the top 300 pension funds in the world whose assets under management (AUM) decreased by 0,4% in 2018.

The GEPF has also continued to generate healthy long-term returns in line with its long-term investment strategy. The accumulated funds and reserves grew an average of 11.2 % during the period 2009 – 2019.  This performance is in line with our approach of long-term growth in pursuit of sustainable risk-adjusted returns.

Despite the prevailing economic headwinds, the Fund’s annual return exceeded its benchmark return of 2.3%. This was due to improved performance from commodity prices, which favoured the Fund’s tactical overweight position in resources shares relative to its benchmark. The long-term returns were largely driven by the performance of the local equity and bond markets, which was favourable over the long term.

The financial results once again highlights that the performance of the fund is not isolated from the country economic and development constraints. If the GEPF is to address this dependence, it has to consider further diversification including increasing its off-shore investments.

It is important to note that the GEPF invests in line with international best practice, diversifying its portfolio of investments through the PIC and other asset managers, to reduce its exposure to any one market risk, and thereby maximizing its return on investments. These decisions are guided and made in accordance with GEPF’s strategic asset allocation policy and risk management systems.

The fund also experienced an increase in member contributions by 7.1% during the reporting period, representing an R 5 billion increase from R 70 billion in 2018 to R 75 billion in 2019.  Benefits to members upon resignation, retirement, death and funeral benefit also increased.

The total benefits paid during the year under review increased by R 8 billion, mainly due to the increase in pension payments ,which accounted for 45,8% of the total increase. The increase in the pension payments were driven by the 5.5% monthly increase granted to pensioners from 1 April 2018 and a 3% increase in the number of pensioners. Whilst the number of pensioners increased, the fund experienced a slight decrease in active members by 0.6% to 1 265 421 members (2018: 1 273 125)

The funding level is the Fund’s financial gauge. The higher the funding level, the better the financial situation. The results of the March 2018 actuarial valuation show that the Fund is 108.3% funded, i.e. there are sufficient assets to cover the actuarial liabilities in full.

The GEPF is keenly aware of the important role it plays in the South African economy, and that its members, pensioners and beneficiaries are impacted by economic, social and environmental challenges, in recognition of which the GEPF directed 5% of its total portfolio towards domestic development inclusive of infrastructure, transformation, sustainability priority sectors and small –medium enterprises.

The GEPF appreciates to its implementing agencies, the Public Investment Corporation (PIC) and Government Pension Administration Agency (GPAA) for the work they do to ensure that the GEPF fulfils its mandate.

/Ends

The Audited Financial statement can be reviewed on the GEPF website on www.gepf.co.za

Issued by Government Employees Pension Fund

For more information please contact:

Sonke Dandala, Brand Manager

T: +27 (0) 12 424 7340

M: +27 (0)84 665 1006

E: Sonke.dandala@gepf.co.za

About the Government Employees Pension Fund

The Government Employees’ Pension Fund is one of the largest pension funds in the world, with over 1.2 million active members and over 450 000 pensioners and beneficiaries. Our core business, governed by the Government Employees’ Pension Law (1996), is to manage and administer pensions and other benefits for government employees in South Africa. We work to give members and pensioners peace of mind about their financial security after retirement and during situations of need by ensuring that all funds in our safekeeping are responsibly invested and accounted for and that benefits are paid out efficiently, accurately and on time.

 

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Minister of Finance appoints new GEPF Board

The Minister of Finance, Mr Nhlanhla Nene yesterday convened the first sitting of the new Government Employees Pension Fund (GEPF) Board of Trustees following the end of tenure of the previous Board. 

The new Board elected Dr Renosi Mokate as Chairperson and Mr Edward Kekana as Vice Chairperson. Both Trustees have been re-appointed to the GEPF Board.
  
The Board of Trustees comprises of 16 members, eight nominated by employer and the other eight nominated by employees. The names of the new Board of Trustees is as follows:

Employer Representative Trustees

Department – Name
National Treasury – Mr Stadi Mngomezulu (Re-appointed)
Department of Defence- Maj Gen Mulungisa Sitshongaye
State Security Agency – Ms Jennita Kandailal
Department of Basic Education – Dr Morgen Pillay (Re-appointed)
DPSA – Mr Thabo Mokwena
SAPS – Lt Gen Lineo Ntshiea
Specialist – Dr Renosi Mokate (Re-appointed)
Specialist – Mr Themba Gamedze (Re-appointed)

Employee Representative Trustees
Department – Name
NEHAWU – Ms Kgomotso Makhupola (Re–appointed) 
SADTU – Mr Edward Kekana (Re-appointed)
NATU- Mr Alan Thompson 
PSA – Mr Pierre Snyman (Re-appointed)
DENOSA – Mr Sibonelo Cele
POPCRU – Adv Makhubalo Ndaba (Re-appointed) 
Uniformed Services – Col Johan Coetzer (Re-appointed)
Pensioner – Dr Frans le Roux (Re-appointed)

The GEPF Chairperson Dr Renosi Mokate welcomed trustees to the GEPF Board and wished them well in their term of office. She thanked the previous Board with whom she had worked with and congratulated them on their achievements over the last four years. GEPF Principal Executive Officer (PEO) Abel Sithole said, “The staff of the GEPF and I welcome the new Trustees to their positions and look forward to their contribution and guidance in the services of members, pensioners and beneficiaries”.

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Statement by the Government Employees Pension Fund on the suspension of PIC Officials

The Government Employees Pension Fund (GEPF) is extremely perturbed by the latest announcement by the Public Investment Corporation (PIC) that it has suspended its Executive Head of Listed Investments, Mr Fidelis Madavo and the Assistant Portfolio Manager, Mr Victor Seanie, following a preliminary investigation report that reflects the flouting of governance and approval processes with respect to the Ayo Technology Solution transaction.

Of serious concern to the GEPF is that the PIC had assured the GEPF on numerous occasions and in correspondence that correct governance processes were followed with respect to the Ayo Technology Solutions transaction. The GEPF views this as a serious breach of trust.

The PIC invested in Ayo Technology Solution as part of the listed portfolio mandate. Thus at the time of its listing, the investment in Ayo fell outside of the unlisted investment portfolio within which there are set governance processes and there are limits set for the PIC to engage the GEPF.

Although the total unlisted investments portfolio comprises less than 5% of the total assets of the Fund, it represents a significant amount of funds. These are funds that the GEPF invests into, contribute to the real economy of the country and to drive transformation but still aiming to realise it main objective of maximising returns. When the actions of officials bring this intention into question, it undermines the objective to invest in the real economy of the country and may lead to a review that may deprive the economy of greatly needed investment.

Despite the apparent failures on this and other investments, the overall performance of the PIC as an asset manager remains positive and in line with agreed criteria. Nonetheless, the GEPF continues to heighten its monitoring and oversight.

The GEPF requests of the PIC Board to urgently finalise its investigations of alleged impropriety with respect to the Ayo transaction and others and take appropriate action where it is warranted.

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GEPF change rules regarding pension debt on divorce

Following the gazetting of the Government Employees Pension Law Amendment Bill on 23rd May 2019, the Government Employees Pension Fund (GEPF) will, once the amended rules are implemented, no longer subject a member to a debt model in executing a divorce settlement. Instead the new amendment provides for the reduction of pensionable service of the GEPF member that is equal to the value of the divorce settlement amount paid. 

This amendment to the law removes the pension debt that accrued to the GEPF member when a portion of their pension was paid out by the GEPF as a divorce settlement. This pension debt calculation created the perception that members could find themselves owing money to the GEPF when they retired. 

The amendment now ensures that rather than creating a debt, there will be an adjustment to the member’s pensionable service following the payment of a divorce settlement by the GEPF. This means that the benefit that will be paid to the member upon retirement will now be decreased by reducing the members’ years of pensionable service to take into account the pension interest of the member that was given to the spouse upon divorce. 

Therefore, members will receive their full benefit after the reduced pensionable service has been affected. Members who have more than ten years of pensionable service will still be entitled to a lump sum and a monthly pension upon existing the fund, however at a reduced value. Following this law change, the GEPF is currently developing and gazetting rules that will govern the implementation. It is expected that this process will be finalised in July 2019 and the implementation of the new rules will come into effect as of the 01st August 2019. 

Parallel to the process above, the GEPF will be writing to all affected GEPF members in July 2019 to inform them about how these changes are going to affect their pensions and service period and allow them the opportunity to opt from the old divorce debt model into the service reduction model. The affected members will have up until the 22nd May 2020 to indicate their choice of either remaining with the debt and interest model or move to the service adjustment model approach. Currently affected members who fail to indicate their choice by 22 May 2020 will automatically be converted into the new approach. Post 22 May 2020 all members who have a legal divorce claim against their pension will be subjected to the service reduction model. 

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Government Employees Pension Fund pensioners will receive a 5.2% annual pension increase.

Government Employees Pension Fund (GEPF) announced today that an annual pension increase of 5.2% to its pensioners with effect from 1 April 2019. 

The GEPF has granted this increase to enable pensioners to keep up with rises in inflation. 

The pension increase is based on the 5.2% inflation rate for the 12 months ending 30 November 2018 released by Statistics South Africa on 12 December 2018 thus making the increase equal to 100% of Consumer Price Index (CPI) and higher than the 75% of Consumer Price Index (CPI) provided in terms of GEP Law and Rules. 

Pensioners whose pensions commenced after 1 April 2018 will receive a proportionate increase based on the number of months they have been in receipt of a pension by 31 March 2019. 

It must be noted that increases such as this increase which is above what is provided for in GEP Law and Rules is granted at the discretion of the Board taking the Fund’s investment performance into account. 

An analysis of the assets held by the Fund in relation to the valuation of its liabilities undertaken in March 2018 showed that the Fund is 108.3% funded, which means that there are sufficient assets in the fund to cover its actuarial liabilities in full. 

This funding level as been achieved despite, amongst others, the: 

• increase in the number of pensioners 

• pension increases 

• increase in resignation pay-outs 

• increase in funeral benefits from R7 500 to R15 000 upon death of a member, pensioner or spouse as well as the funeral benefit increasing from R 3 000 to R 6 000 for eligible children 

• the introduction of the Child Pension which replaced the Orphan’s Pension. 

Benefit improvements over the years together with investment performance, salary and pension increases result in changes in both the minimum and long term funding level. 

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Board Letter to GEPF Members and Pensioners About the PIC Inquiry

Dear Members / Pensioners 

As many of you are aware, the Public Investment Corporation Inquiry established by President Mr Cyril Ramaphosa, to probe allegations of impropriety at the Public Investment Corporation (PIC) has begun. 

The Government Employees Pension Fund (GEPF) supports the establishment of the inquiry as we believe it will result in a stronger and more effective Public Investment Corporation. In this regard, the GEPF has written to the PIC Inquiry indicating its willingness to cooperate fully with the inquiry. 

We have also noted with concern the recent suspensions of senior PIC employees as well as the instituting of a forensic investigation by the Board of the PIC into allegations of impropriety against certain directors of the Board. The GEPF views such matters in a very serious light and as such, we have written to the PIC raising our concerns with respect to these matters, including the alleged governance failures at the PIC. 

It is understandable that the revelations at the inquiry and the alleged governance failures are as much a concern to you, our members and pensioners, as it is to us at the GEPF. 

I would like to assure you that the GEPF is in a very sound financial situation and that such issues will not have an impact on your pensions and benefits. Despite the indications of apparent failures and or circumvention of processes with regard to a number of investments, the overall performance of the PIC as an asset manager remains positive and in line with agreed criteria. Nonetheless, the GEPF continues to heighten its monitoring and oversight. The board and management of the GEPF takes its fiduciary duties very seriously and is committed to ensuring that our fund continues to grow. 

Yours sincerely, Abel Sithole Principal Executive Officer GEPF

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ACTUARIAL INTEREST EXPLAINED

WHAT IS ACTUARIAL INTEREST?

The GEPF is a Defined Benefit fund. The Rules of the Fund stipulate that the benefit payable to a member on retirement is based on his or her pensionable salary and years of membership in the Fund. The benefit payable is not related to the contributions received on behalf of that member. Where a member retires with less than 10 years of service or withdraws from the Fund prior to retirement, the member receives his or her Actuarial Interest in the Fund, which is the estimated value of the benefit that the member has built up in the Fund to the date of exit. Put another way, it is the amount of money the Fund is holding in order to fund the expected future benefit payment to the member. 

The total of the Actuarial Interest values for all members and pensioners is compared to the total assets held by the Fund to determine whether the Fund has sufficient assets to meet its liabilities – this is done formally every two years as part of the Actuarial Valuation of the Fund by a valuator who an independent expert in this field and is approved by the regulator. An extract of the valuation results is also reflected in the Fund’s published Annual Report. 

Actuarial Interest values are calculated by applying a formula based on the following: 

1. The average pensionable (or basic) salary in the last two years prior to exit; 

2. The years of membership with the Fund; 

3. Any purchase of service or money transferred into the Fund from other funds; and 

4. A factor – called an Actuarial Interest Factor – based on the member’s age and whether the member is a “Services” member or an “Other” member. 

In calculating the actuarial interest, the Fund determines, for each member, the potential benefit that would be payable in each future year for each type of exit (that is, resignation, death, retirement, etc.). Since the Fund has no way of knowing when and how each member will exit and what the member’s salary will be at the date of exit, this calculation requires that various assumptions be made about the future economic conditions and the demographics (profile) of the entire membership. 

The demographic and economic assumptions are reviewed as part of each Actuarial Valuation of the Fund to ensure they remain appropriate and in line with the actual experience to give the best possible estimate of each member’s Actuarial Interest value in the Fund. 

• The demographic assumptions relate to the expected number of withdrawals, deaths and retirements of members at each age and how long pensioners are expected to live. These assumptions are specific to the Fund as they are calculated from the actual experience of the Fund- this is the best available indicator of what is likely to take place in the future. 

• The economic assumptions relate to the expected level of future inflation, interest rates and investment returns (which are calculated from investment market information), salary increases (which are calculated relative to inflation) and pension increases (which are based on the pension increase policy of the Fund). 

As the demographic experience of the Fund and economic circumstance change, it has to be reflected in the demographic and economic assumptions. The Actuarial Interest Factors, and therefore Actuarial Interest values, can increase or decrease as a result of any change in the demographic and economic assumptions. This will, in turn, reflect in a change in the current value of each member’s benefits in the Fund. These changes are not the result of a decision by the Board of Trustees, the employer (government) or employee representative (trade unions).

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