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Namfisa washes hands of Bankmed issue

The Namibia Financial Institutions Supervisory Authority (Namfisa) says its prudential supervision of medical aid funds does not necessarily prevent the liquidation or voluntary dissolution of medical aid funds, but merely reduces the likelihood thereof.

This comes after reports that the banking sector medical aid fund Bankmed resolved at its recent annual general meeting to close shop, instead of raising members’ subscriptions to sustain its operations.

Although it could not be ascertained how many members would be affected by this move, it is estimated that the seven commercial banks operating in the country had about 6 000 employees before the Covid-19 pandemic.

In a statement issued on Friday, Namfisa said: “There is tremendous speculation . . . particularly regarding the financial status and future sustainability of one of the medical aid funds, namely Bankmed Namibia, which is currently registered with Namfisa in terms of the Medical Aid Funds Act.”

The statement said under the Namfisa Act, the regulator may not disclose information on affairs of a medical aid fund to anyone.

“To this end, Namfisa is unable to comment on the financial condition, future sustainability or any other aspect of the fund. Members of the fund are advised to contact the principal officer and chairperson of the fund,” the statement, issued by spokesperson Joanette Eises, said.

Namfisa said its supervision of medical aid funds entails robust monitoring and corrective enforcement that enable the authority to proactively identify at an early stage and address potential issues in respect of each medical aid fund and within the medical aid funds sector.

“Namfisa’s supervisory approach includes regular on-site and off-site inspections, risk assessments, and thereafter taking appropriate corrective enforcement actions, when necessary, which are aimed at resolving any identified issues,” the statement said.

However, the authority said it distinguishes between risks that are consistent with a dynamic and efficient medical aid fund and those medical aid funds that need to be regularly monitored to achieve financial stability.

“Namfisa particularly intervenes swiftly if a medical aid fund’s non-compliance with the prudential supervision requirements of the law undermines its financial sustainability and adversely impacts its members.”

Contacted for comment, Bankmed’s principal officer, Elise Fahl, on Monday said the board of trustees is finalising a press release which will be distributed early next week. – email: [email protected]