BY GABRIEL ESEZOBOR( UYO, AKWA IBOM)—–The National Pension Commission (PenCom) on Thursday said it has achieved growth in assets of contributory pension scheme (CPS) as net assets value of pension assets rose to N7.779 trillion as at 28 February, 2018.
The Commission’s Acting Director General, Aisha Dahir-Umar, disclosed this to Pension Correspondents and Business Editors during a one- day workshop held today in UYO, Akwa Ibom State, that growth recorded represents an increase of N270 billion up from the value of N7.52 trillion as at 31st December, 2017.
She attributed the increase to the new contributions received, interest/coupon from fixed income securities and net realised/unrealised gains on equities and mutual fund investments.
The Acting DG who was represented by the by Mohammed Sani Mohammed the Commission Secretary/Legal Adviser also disclosed that the number of contributors under the Scheme has grown by 390,000 percent from 7.50 million as at 31st March, 2017 to 7.89 million as at 31st December, 2017 and then to 7.90 million as at 28th February, 2018.
She said the Commission is intensifying efforts at ensuring the provision of necessary infrastructure for the launching of the Micro Pension Scheme in line with the Commission’s strategic objective of expanding coverage of the CPS to the under-served sectors.
This she said is a major kernel of the strategy for expanding coverage of the Contributory Pension Scheme. Meanwhile, the Guidelines for the Micro Pension Scheme are being finalized preparatory to the commencement of the scheme.
Speaking further on some of the achievements of the commission she said ” In order to enhance the monthly pension of retirees in the Contributory Pension Scheme, the Commission initiated the Pension Enhancement Programme. It was discovered that the returns being generated by the PFAs on the balances of the RSAs of majority of retirees could be used to enhance their monthly pensions. “Consequently, the Commission sought for and obtained the approval of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation to implement the pension enhancement, which resulted in increased monthly pensions for most retirees receiving pension under the Programmed Withdrawal arrangement. Accordingly, the PFAs have commenced the enhancement of pensions of all retirees under Programmed Withdrawal with effect from December 2017.
She added that “The implementation of the pension enhancement is one of the significant milestones attained since the commencement of the CPS. It confirms that the CPS has workable internal mechanisms to respond to legitimate demands of retirees as they seek a reasonable retirement income. The Commission intends to sustain this periodic review exercise in line with relevant provisions of the law.”
On Circular on Voluntary Contributions she said “the Commission issued a Circular on Withdrawals from Voluntary Contributions (VC) in November, 2017. The Circular was necessitated by the observed incidences of high rates of withdrawals from VCs by contributors, which appeared to negate the main purpose of using such contributions to augment pensions at retirement. In addition, the Commission seeks to ensure strict adherence to Anti-Money Laundering provisions and relevant taxes laws. The main thrust of the Circular is that 50% of the VCs can be withdrawn once in every two years, while subsequent withdrawals would be on incremental contributions from the last withdrawal. Furthermore, the remaining 50% of VC shall be domiciled for augmenting pensions upon retirement.”
On outstanding pension liabilities of of the fedetal government she said; “the commission has determined the total pension liability owed to the Contributory Pension retirees due to both the 15% and 33% pension increases of 2007 and 2014 respectively. In addition, the outstanding accrued rights of Federal Government employees who retired in 2017 as well as the amount due to those retiring in 2018, have been submitted to the Federal Government for appropriation in the 2018 budget.
She asduref that based on the positive disposition of the fedetal government towards settling outstanding pension liabilities, as evidenced by the release of N54 billion in April 2017, it is expected that these liabilities will soon be cleared.