The Director General of the National Pension Commission (PenCom), Mrs. Chinelo Anohu-Amazu has asserted the pension industry would play a vital role in alleviating the sufferings that Nigerians would likely experience should the Federal Government introduce some forms belt-tightening measures to salvage the economy.
She also assured contributors under the scheme that they would soon be given the opportunity to use part of their pension savings as equity contribution towards building their own homes.
Anohu-Amazu gave this assurance at the one-day “Stakeholders’ Sensitisation Conference on the Pension Reform Act, 2014” in Abuja.
She said the pension industry has pooled significant investible funds locally and would deploy same to relevant sectors of the economy, particularly for the development of infrastructure and provision of houses for contributors in line with relevant provisions of the pension law.
She recalled that the pension law allows pension fund assets to be invested in infrastructure across the country, saying many jobs would be created in the course of infrastructural development and housing, such that many Nigerians would be gainfully employed. This,
The D-G said the fund would go a long way in alleviating the pains of austerity measures.
Anohu-Amazu recalled that the Pension Reform Act, 2014 allows contributors seeking to own their primary homes to apply to use part of their Retirement Savings Account (RSA) balances as equity contributions for residential mortgage subject to guidelines issued by the Commission.
“The process of issuing these guidelines is already at advanced stages and it is our expectation that as soon as implemented, this development would assist in bridging the housing deficit in Nigeria,” she stressed.
The Director General said the application of the Contributory Pension Scheme (CPS) by States and Local Governments received a boost under the new pension law since a standard which State Governments are required to comply with for the benefit of their respective employees had been set.
The 2014 Act also made provisions for voluntary participation in the CPS, thereby paving the way for the coverage of the informal sector. This is intended at extending the benefits of the Scheme to a wider horizon of labour in the Nigerian economy she stressed.
Reviewing the Pension Reform Act, 2014 further, she said the responsibilities of other government institutions in the implementation of the scheme and the administration of the defunct Defined Benefits Scheme are clearly spelt out.
According to her, public sector challenges under the CPS which were encountered during the last 10 years are being addressed by relevant government agencies by virtue of the new law.
Some of these challenges had to do with “remittance of pension contributions, funding of the retirement benefits bond redemption fund account, duration and adequacy of monthly pension for public servants, periodic pension review, the funding of pension entitlements for Professors and political office holders,” she enumerated.
“It is noteworthy that the PRA 2014 has also addressed other issues aimed at ensuring the sustainability of the CPS. These include the establishment of the Pension Protection Fund (PPF) and Minimum Pension Guarantee (MPG),” she added.
Anohu-Amazu said the programme was meant to focus on public sector issues, including the roles and responsibilities of government agencies under the PRA 2014 even as the law reaffirmed PenCom as the sole regulator of pension in the country, as well as reviewed upwards the rates of contribution for both employers and employees and penalties and sanctions for infractions against the law.