LEO ALIGWO (Asst. Bus. Editor)
PENSION Commission (PenCom) has generated a whopping N4.5 trillion from workers contributions within the last 10 years running, the Head, Compliance and enforcement, Mr. Mohammed Bello Umaru has revealed.
In addition, PenCom has recorded a total of six hundred contributors to the pension fund just as no fewer than 100,000 retirees have paid their pension, amounting to N2 billion during the review period.
Mr. Umaru who made the revelation while fielding questions from callers at a radio audience participation phone programme on the passage of the new penCom Bill by the National Assembly (NASS) disclosed that a framework had been developed for the individuals and artisans to participate in the pension scheme.
According to him, both the private and informal sectors were accommodated under the new arrangement.
He said the passage of the PenCom Bill would address the various issues raised by the employers of labour.
He also expressed optimism that the numbers of workers who have registered with PenCom would double following the recent passage of the Commission’s Bill.
In his words; “Awareness about PenCom has reached its peak. Every worker is now aware of the existence of the Commission”.
While assuring the fund was being seriously monitored to avoid abuse, he denied allegation of fraudulent acts in the administration of workers pension during the period under review, stressing that the new PenCom Act was designed to enable workers live quality life on retirement.
“PenCom does not only have the most stringent rules for registration and administration of the fund but has zero tolerance for corruption.
To this end, Umaru boasted that PenCom is now more transparent and efficient in its operations; emphasizing that compliance fro the Pension Mangers had been very high.
“We have never had any case of corruption or fraud since we started. The fraud being complained about by the public was experienced under the old PenCom administration”.
Reacting to the pathetic issue of non payment of pension to scores of retirees, Umaru said a Pension Administration Department had been established to handle cases of complaints of unpaid pension to workers.
He explained that contrary to impression in certain quarters, the Pension Fund Administrators (PFA) are only entitled to 1.6 per cent of the remitted funds per annum from the Pension Custodians, stressing, “PenCom is a highly regulated industry, and that is why there has been no cases of fraud in the past 10 years. Except the Pension Custodians, the PFAs have no access to funds”.
Continuing, he assured the contributors to the fund that their pension funds including monthly deductions were safe and protected”
Umaru reiterated that workers who retire before the age of 60 or have worked for 35 years were entitled to only 25 per cent of their pension until they attain retirement age.
He listed the factors militating against effective administration of the fund to include the inability of some workers to provide basic information such as mailing address and bank account details for effective communication between them and PenCom.
Also speaking, the Head, Investment Supervision, Mr. Ehieme Ohiom, said compliance from the PFAs on prompt remittance of funds had been very high.
Mr. Ohiom revealed that PenCom has plans to enter into partnership with the newly established Nigeria’s Mortgage Housing Refinancing Company in a bid to provide decent houses for the workers on retirement from active service.
In his own contribution, the Chairman, Pension ASSOCIATION OF Nigeria (PAN), Mr. Boak Yola said PenCom was established to ensure that contribution of workers were secured.
This is even as he enjoined the Government Ministries Departments Agencies (MDAs) to send their respective nominal rolls to PenCom for prompt remittance of workers pension.
Mr. Ohiom said the Pension Managers were obliged to give the workers statement of their monthly deductions before their retirement from service.
Meanwhile, a female contributor the programme, Dr. Nma Olebara, described the implementation of the new pension reform Act 2004 and 2005 as a welcome development.
Dr. Nma harped on the need for sanitization of PenCom to guide against fraud, emphasizing that it would be a wasted effort and sad development if a worker fail to collect his pension on retirement.