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-The Herald

The Government Employees Mutual Savings (GEMS) Fund loan facility is set to be rolled out beginning tomorrow, and members that have contributed for three consecutive months can start applying for loans.

Already, there is high interest among civil servants who have joined the scheme voluntarily and more are expected to seek to participate in the scheme.

The GEMS, a voluntary scheme launched last year, seeks to encourage members to accumulate savings through small monthly deductions from their salaries, provide financial assistance to members in the form of loans or similar instruments and enhance financial flexibility and security for members.

In a statement last night, the Public Service Commission said: “We are pleased to announce that the Government Employees Mutual Savings (GEMS) Fund loan facility is ready for roll-out starting from May 1, 2021.

“Qualifying members of the Fund who have contributed for three consecutive months can, beginning May1, 2021, apply for loans.“The Public Service Commission (PSC) is pleased with the level of interest so far expressed by Government workers who have voluntarily joined the scheme in their numbers. We expect that more civil servants will apply to participate as the benefits of membership become more apparent.”

The PSC says it has shared information on the GEMS rollout with the leadership of the Apex Council, realising the important role played by workers’ representatives.

To apply for loans, members can obtain forms from National Building Society (NBS) branches nationwide and from Public Service Commission offices near them.

The forms can also be submitted at the same points. To qualify for loans, applicants must be civil servants who are members of the Fund, and must have contributed to the Fund for three consecutive months.

Short-term loans will have a tenure of 12 months, and the maximum amount one can apply for under the category will be five times one’s net salary, with a maximum loan amount of $100 000.

Medium term loans will be extended for 36 months and the maximum amount applied for in this category will be eight times a member’s net salary, with a maximum loan amount of $500 000.

The PSC said to apply for the loans, one needs a copy of their national identification card or valid passport or driver’s licence, pay slip not older than three months and proof of residence dated not earlier than three months before the date of application.

There is a loan application fee of $200 and the loans are disbursed through the Salary Service Bureau (SSB).

“The minimum interest rate shall be 10 percent per annum. The maximum interest rate shall be determined from time to time, but shall remain nominal in market terms. “Interest on loans will be calculated on the balance as repayments are made (and) loan and interest repayment shall be through pay points, such as Salary Service Bureau,” said the ministry.

On inception last year, Government said the GEMS was aimed at creating wealth during and after termination of civil servants’ employment.

Initially, the Government had indicated willingness to provide $100 million for the Fund, with the possibility of doubling the amount to $200 million to support civil servants by kick-starting the scheme.

Civil servants who join the scheme would then pay 2,5 percent of their pay.

GEMS was introduced as part of the expanding portfolio of benefits to support the livelihoods of civil servants.

Government has repeatedly indicated its willingness to improve the lives of its employees through cash and non-cash incentives. At the moment, Government has proposed a 25 percent salary increment to its workers from this month, with an additional 50 percent salary review coming in June.

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