By YEMISI IZUORA
The National Pension Commission, PenCom has demonstrated leadership through various initiatives that has helped in tightening up loopholes not only to safeguard pensions funds but to effectively drive service delivery.
Oriental News Nigeria reports that PenCom’s data shows that Nigeria’s pension assets have risen by N1.77 trillion in the first half of 2023, from N14.99 trillion in December 2022 to N16.76 trillion at the end of June 2023.
Also, membership increased by 146,920 new contributors, from 9.86 members as of the end of 2022 to over 10 million members as of June 2023.
The Director General, DG, of the Commission, Aisha Dahir-Umar, giving insight into the Commission’s activities said that the Agency’s proactive regulatory approach has strengthened the oversight and governance of pension funds, promoting transparency, accountability and safeguarding the interests of pension contributors.
The DG, offered more details of its interventions at the 2023 Journalists Conference organised by the PenCom for members of the press covering Pension matters.
The theme of this year’s workshop is “Transforming Service Delivery in the Pension Industry: Strategies for Improving Efficiency and Customer Satisfaction,”.
She said the Contributory Pensions Scheme, CPS has ensured that public and private sector workers can build retirement savings throughout their working lives, fostering financial security during their golden years.
Reflecting on the conference, Dahir-Umar said, the summit is a testament to PenCom’s commitment to enhancing the knowledge and understanding of the CPS and its impact in the lives of contributors and retirees.
” It is also an occasion to interact with the media and discuss developments shaping Nigeria’s pension landscape.
“It reflects PenCom’s commitment to continuous service improvement in the Pension Industry so that contributors and retirees receive the best possible experience.” she added
At the forum three enlightening papers addressing essential aspects of the Agency’s pension system’s service delivery were presented.
The first paper, “Enhancing Customer Service in the Pension Industry: PenCom’s New Strategic Plan,” will highlight the Commission’s latest initiatives to elevate customer service.
The creation of the Consumer Protection Department (CPD), she further explained underscores PenCom’s determination to prioritise service delivery and provide our Retirement Savings Account holders with the care and attention they rightfully deserve.
The second paper, “Strengthening Regulatory Oversight for Improved Service Delivery in the Pension Industry,” will explore how regulatory measures can effectively bolster the quality of services provided in the pension sector. Regulatory oversight is pivotal in maintaining transparency, fairness, and efficiency, which are the cornerstones of our pension system.
The third paper, “Improving Accessibility and Service Delivery in RSA Mortgage Financing,” will be presented by the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Pension Fund Operators Association of Nigeria (PenOp).
Ikenna Chidi-Ebere, Head, Consumer Protection Department, in his paper
“Enhancing Customer Service in the Pension Industry: PenCom’s New Strategic Plan” explained that the Commission in keeping to its Corporate Strategy Initiative for 2023 to 2027, established the Consumer Protection Department (CPD) to replace its erstwhile Corporate Responsibility and ServiCom Department.
The Consumer Protection Department (CPD) was created to ensure protection of rights and effective service delivery to consumers (Retirement Savings Accounts (RSA) holder and Retirees).
This creation of CPD was anchored on the fact that the Commission’s new strategic plan prioritizes the quality of services rendered to consumers in the Pension Industry.
By adopting a customer-centric approach, the focus is on understanding the needs and preferences of Contributors and Retirees.
This ensures that the pension services are tailored to meet their expectations effectively.
Functions Of The CPD
The CPD was carefully conceived according to Chidi-Ebere, to develop and implement a Consumer Protection Framework, CPF, to engender more confidence in the Pension Industry.
It also has the responsibility to develop appropriate industry standards (ISs) to improve service delivery so as to ensure that quality products, services and processes are delivered and promote pension literacy in the country by enhancing pension awareness building trust and improving customer satisfaction through transparent and structured compliant resolution and service delivery.
It further handles complaints from internal and external stakeholders, while also developing and implementing Service Charter for the Pension Industry and liaises with SERVICOM Office/Presidential Enabling Business Environment Council (PEBEC) on service delivery.
Enhancing Customer Service In Pension Industry
The Commission’s Service Charter stipulates the timeframe for processing consumers’ requests.
Therefore, the Commission ensures that Pension Fund Operators strictly adhere to the timelines for processing consumers’ requests in line with the Service Standard/Service Level Agreement for excellence in service delivery.
Pension Fund Operators are required to forward Monthly Service Delivery Reports to the Commission to effectively monitor how efficient they render services to Consumers.
Continuous liaising with the Pension Fund Operators to ensure that services were effectively rendered to consumers.
Enhancing Whistleblowing Mechanism
The Commission further encourages the general public especially (Private Sector Employees) to report defaulting employers not complying with the provisions of Pension Reform Act 2014 (Non-remittance of Mandatory Monthly Pension Contributions).
The report can be submitted anonymously to protect employees from the risk of job loss or victimization by their employers.
Employees can also report any observed irregularity that relates to pension matters which may hamper the customer satisfaction.
The report can be lodged at the online and off-line addresses mentioned in slides 15 to 17.
Consumer Protection Framework
Achieving excellent service delivery in the Pension Industry requires the establishment of a robust Consumer Protection Framework.
This framework will serve as a vital tool to consistently meet consumers’ expectations for exceptional service delivery.
Specifically, the Consumer Protection Framework aims to define and uphold essential consumer protection principles, safeguarding the rights and responsibilities of individuals within the pension system. By doing so, it ensures that consumers’ needs are adequately addressed and protected.
The Consumer Protection principles serve as the bedrock for the Consumer Protection Framework which is designed to safeguard the rights, interests, and well-being of consumers in their interactions with Licensed Pension Operators and the Commission.
These principles aim to ensure fair and ethical treatment of consumers, promote transparency and accountability, and prevent fraudulent or harmful practices.