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Mozambican employers are stealing from their workers on a massive scale, by deducting social security contributions from their wages, but then failing to send the money on to the National Social Security Institute (INSS).
According to Jafar Buana, the Maputo City Director of Employment and Social Security, of the 32,000 companies registered with the INSS in the capital, more than 12,000 are not channelling their workers’ contributions to the INSS.
This damages the interests of about 150,000 workers, who cannot claim the benefits to which they are entitled because their employers have stolen the money. The worst offenders are private security companies, 50 per cent of whom have not sent contributions to the INSS.
Buana was speaking at a seminar launching a 30 day drive to collect social security debts from Maputo companies.
“There are taxpayers who evade their obligations”, he accused. “They do not channel contributions to the INSS, even after they have deducted the money from the workers’ wages. There is an increasing number of these debtors, affecting the system and the workers’ rights”.
“This situation”, Buana said, “demands from all of us, the managers of the system, the employers, the workers, a great sense of responsibility. Lives and many years of hard work are at stake, because when the time comes for the workers to use their benefits they are prevented from doing so because their employers never sent the money to the INSS”.
The total number of companies in Maputo who are in debt to the INSS has now reached 12,318, and their total debt is over 1.045 billion meticais (about 17.7 million US dollars). This figure includes not only the unpaid social security debt, but fines and interest charged for late payment. Thus the companies’ debts to the INSS keep increasing – and still they do not pay.
“Social protection is a universal human right”, declared Buana. “All citizens have this right, regardless of their colour, race, sex, ethnicity, place of birth, religion, education or social status”.
Yet over 150,000 workers in the capital were now at risk of receiving no retirement pension, no sickness or disability benefits.
Buana appealed to the companies to comply scrupulously with the law. He wanted the companies to pay their debts voluntarily, in instalments if necessary – but made it clear that, if this appeal fell on deaf ears, the money will be collected coercively, through the Public Prosecutor’s Office. Representatives of the Public Prosecutor were present at the launch.