From Bimbola Oyesola and Maduka Nweke, Calabar
The National Pension Commission (PenCom) yesterday said it had realised over N5.9 trillion from 7.2 million contributors since it commenced operation 12 years ago.
Speaking at the PenCom workshop for finance, insurance, labour correspondents and Business Editors in Calabar, Cross River State, the PenCom Director-General,
, said the relative success of the implementation of the Pension Reform Act (PRA) 2004 could largely be attributed to the fundamental structures upon which the Contributory Pension Scheme (CPS) was built.
According to her, the cardinal principle of separation of custody from management and supervision of pension funds has resulted in a pension scheme with sound internal mechanisms for transparency and accountability.
She said that whereas the Pension Fund Administrators (PFAs) manage the pension funds, they do not have access to same, since custody is vested in the Pension Fund Custodians (PFCs). According her, the commission ensures both parties adhere strictly to regulations governing the pension funds.
The DG said some of the major success indicators include the consistent growth in a large pool of pension assets of over N5.9 trillion, which are invested in structured and safe financial instruments from 7.2 million pension contributors; and 170,000 retirees under the CPS; among others.
Anohu-Amazu, who was represented by Prof. Mohammed Abubakar Ka’oje, Commissioner (Inspectorate Division), said Pen Com aimed at increasing the level of awareness on the Contributory Pension Scheme and other related pension issues.
She said: “The enactment of the Pension Reform Act (PRA) 2004 was a significant turning point in the quest to bequeath a sustainable and efficient pension system for Nigeria. The main aim was to provide an enduring solution to the protracted challenges associated with pensions in both the public and private sectors. The main highlights of the PRA 2004 included the introduction of the CPS to replace the old Defined Benefits Scheme and the establishment of PenCom as the sole regulator.
“However, these modest milestones notwithstanding, the implementation of the PRA 2004 was not bereft of challenges. Indeed, some issues were noted in the course of implementation since the PRA 2004 and this underscored the imperative for a comprehensive review of the PRA in order to consolidate on the Pension Reform. The re-enactment of the PRA in July 2014 provided a sound basis to guide the second decade of the Nigerian Pension Reform.
“The PRA 2014 sought to ensure that more tangible benefits accrue to retirees towards a more blissful retirement. Some of the major developments introduced by the new law include an increase in monthly pension contributions to 18 per cent from the previous 15 per cent, in order to ensure that retirement benefits are enhanced under the CPS for the benefit of contributors; reduction in the waiting period for contributors to access their Retirement Savings Account (RSA) in the event of temporary loss of job from 6 months to 4 months; stiffer penalties and sanctions for infractions; establishment of the Pension Transitional Arrangements Directorate to co-ordinate the smooth administration of the old DB Scheme of the public service; among others.”
The Director-General said topics at the conference were carefully designed to provide a clear understanding of all major functional aspects of the CPS, with emphasis on issues of retirees and contributors.
“Presentations will commence with explanations on the major highlights of the new PRA 2014 and thereafter dwell into specific operational issues including investment of pension funds, the Micro Pension initiative, retirement benefits payment and the role of the media in reporting the pension industry.
FRC tasks NASENI on accounting standards
From Magnus Eze, Abuja
The Fiscal Responsibility Commission (FRC) has said it was not out to witch-hunt any government agencies, but urged them to streamline their accounting standards, work status and processes to enhance their service delivery in order to increase revenue for the nation.
Acting Chairman of the FRC, Mr. Victor Muruako, stated this at an interactive meeting between the commission and the National Agency for Science and Engineering Infrastructure (NASENI) in Abuja yesterday.
He said the meeting was informed by the need to streamline the process and accounting standards of NASENI to conform with best practices, adding that the agency’s financial statement did not incorporate those of its institutes.
The FRC boss added that there was also no proper recording of transactions among the agencies, therefore, directing NASENI to consolidate its financial statements with the institutes under it.
He restated the commission’s resolve to continue strengthening government agencies to enhance the effective discharge of their functions in generating revenue for the Federal Government.
In his remarks, the Vice-Chairman of NASENI, Prof. Haruna Sani, said the agency would cooperate with FRC in generating revenue for the Consolidated Revenue Fund.
Education: N41bn dormant in UBEC fund, says FG
From Fred Ezeh, Abuja
The Federal Government yesterday announced that N41 billion was lying dormant in the account of the Universal Basic Education Commission (UBEC), waiting to be accessed by beneficiaries.
Education authoroties, while describing it as economically wasteful for such a huge amount of money to lay dormant at a time when Nigeria needs to boost its gross domestic product, also expressed disapproval that school children were exposed to deplorable conditions of learning as a result.
The Federal Government thus challenged the beneficiaries and state governors to make Universal Basic Education a matter of top priority and urgently access the funds to improve the learning conditions of school children.
Spokesman of the Ministry of Education, Mr. Ben Goong, in a statement issued in Abuja, expressed the dsipleasure of the Minister of State for Education, Prof. Anthony Anwukah, on the development.
The minister, through the statement, however, confirmed that only Borno State was up-to-date in accessing its share of UBEC funds, while Abia State led the pack of defaulting states with its share lying dormant for the past four years.
BUDGET: Udoma never blamed delay of 2017 on NASS – Aide
The Ministry of Budget and National Planning has said that the minister, Senator Udoma Udo Udoma, never blamed the delay in submitting the 2017 Budget on the National Assembly.
Reacting to a report yesterday, wherein a newspaper quoted the Udoma, as hinging “the inability of the ministry to send the budget to the National Assembly on the failure of the lawmakers to conclude deliberations on the Medium Term Expenditure Framework (MTEF 2017 – 2019) and the Fiscal Strategy Paper (FSP),” Mr. Akpandem James, media adviser, said the minister never said so, as nobody spoke with him.
He stated: “The reporter had sought to know from the minister’s Media Adviser, Akpandem James, when the 2017 Budget would be submitted to the National Assembly and was simply told that the budget could not be completed until the MTEF and FSP, which is before the National Assembly, were approved, as these will provide the framework for the 2017 Budget.”