Insurance, pensions sector’s dividend in real estate suffers knock 

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By James Muonwa, Mashonaland West Correspondent

THE insurance and pensions sector, which hedges contributors’ funds in real estate, is reeling under debilitating Covid-19 pandemic effects due to reduced housing and office occupancy levels and rental cuts.

Tenants, who are equally incapacitated by the pandemic, are reportedly negotiating for discounted rentals as business is depressed.

Insurance and Pensions Commission (IPEC) commissioner of insurance, pensions and provident funds, Grace Muradzikwa told journalists participating in a training webinar that most insurance and pensions administrators invest mostly in high-rise buildings and university students’ accommodation.

Muradzikwa said due to Covid-19, tenants were requesting landlords to revise rentals and rates downwards.

“Covid-19 has had an effect on the insurance and pensions administrators who have over 80% investment in skylines in cities as well as university students’ accommodation.

“There are requests for reduced or discounted rentals and reduced occupancy levels, thereby impacting on the investment,” said the former Nicoz Diamond chief executive.

She said despite the challenges wrought by Covid-19, the pensions sector was blossoming.

“The pensions sector had growth in asset base, an increase of 843% from June 2019 to June 2020,” she said.

The Mining Industry Pensions Fund (MIPF), the Local Authorities Pensions Fund and the National Social Security Authority (NSSA) are some of the institutions with considerable investments into real estate straddling the length-and-breath of the country.

Muradzikwa, however, bemoaned the high number of unclaimed employee benefits, which stand at 153 000 members totalling $196 million.

She said IPEC was unable to trace beneficiaries and this has prompted the need to establish a search engine to track them down.

Meanwhile, IPEC has signalled a red flag on fraudulent claims which Muradzikwa I average 30% of total claims, a trend occasioned by the inclement economic conditions.