The National Pension Commission (PenCom) has counseled investment managers on how they can realise funding of specific industries and projects with funds under the scheme.
To start with the agency insists that stakeholders must securitize such investments in such preferred projects in addition to ensuring accountability and transparency in the management of invested pension assets.
The regulator said the securitisation of investment to attract pension funds, is a challenge for the Market operators, Financial Advisers, Leasing Houses and estate managers to go back to the drawing board and develop instruments to enable PFAs mobilise funds under their custody for this purpose.
The Head of Benefits and Insurance at PenCom, Mr. Olulana Loyinmi made this clarification at the 2015 InsPen Online Media Nigerian Insurance and Pension Award in Lagos recently. The theme of the programme was “Redimensioning Retirement Benefits for Growth.”
Loyinmi agreed that it will be a good idea to use pension fund to grow real estate business and provide home for Nigerians but underlined the major inhibitor in this direction saying it has to do with the lack of an objective and generally acceptable valuation methods for real estates.
He underscored the fact that transparency and safety are major considerations in pension administration and urged real estate operators to work with relevant professionals to securitise investments in the sector to enable pension operators channel funds to this critical sector.
“PFAs cannot create investment outlets; they are only sublime operators in this aspect of business,” he stressed.
Loyinmi said in as much as it is desirable to use pension assets to finance construction of specialist hospitals, such investment must be well-structured and securitised as well. “It has to be converted to bonds for PFAs to invest in specialist hospitals,” he said.
The instruments that pension funds could be invested in must ensure transparency, accountability and safety of pension assets such that the aims of pension reform will not be defeated, he said.
Loyinmi also responded to demands by retirees and other stakeholders for health insurance and other social security programmes to be incorporated into the CPS, saying the pension reform envisaged in the Pension Reform Act, 2004 and 2014 respectively provides for only pension for retirees and not health insurance.
He said another government agency; National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS) is statutorily empowered to provide health insurance for workers and other citizens of the country.
He also assured that PenCom would continue to improve on its awareness programmes. It may not have been adequate but we all have this responsibility, he stressed.
Presenting the theme paper, the Managing Director of Lancelot Ventures Limited, Mr. Adebayo Adeleke noted that the Contributory Pension Scheme has so far pooled over N4.5 trillion from over 6 million workers leaving out about 90 per cent of the working population in the country.
He predicted that pension asset is likely hit N140 trillion between 2022 and 2025, about 14 times the current market capitalisation of the Nigerian Stock Exchange (NSE) and queried; “where will these trillions of naira be invested at a positive rate of return without fuelling asset bubble.”
Adeleke observed that 85 per cent of accumulated pension assets were invested in fixed income government securities with the remaining 15 per cent in private equity, mutual and infrastructure fund, indicating that Pension Fund Administrators (PFAs) were either being too conservative or that there are no real alternative investment outlets for pension funds. “PFAs are constrained by regulation to be extremely conservative,” he stressed.
He also observed that growth in pension assets was as a result of new entrants into the scheme since the yield on the investment has been wiped off by the rising inflation and devaluation of the national currency.
He emphasised the “need to search, structure, develop and invest in alternative asset classes that have the potential to beat inflation sustainably” and made a case for the use of pension fund to finance Infrastructure including electricity and tolled bridges, specialist hospitals (on Kidney & Cancer, etc) and short rail system, among other developmental projects.
He also made a strong case for pension funds to be channelled into real estate, agriculture and manufacturing as well as Small and Medium Enterprise sectors respectively. He advised PFAs to stop playing in the capital market as merely speculators but graduate to assume their rightful position as institutional investors.