By Ebere Nwoji
The National Pension Commission (PenCom) is requesting for a total sum of N5.099,923,345 billion from the federal government for its capital expenditure and overhead cost for its operations in 2017.
This is against the N849,923,346.90 million in the ratio of N750,000,000.00 for capital subvention and N99,923,346.90 million for overhead cost allocated to it in the 2017 federal budget.
The Director General, PenCom, Chinelo Anohu Amazu, who made the request in her 2017 budget defence at the senate Committee on Establishment and Public Service in Abuja, explained why the commission requested for amount higher than what was estimated in the appropriation bill, saying there is need for PenCom to expand its activities.
“PenCom wishes to respectfully inform the esteemed Senate Committee on Establishment and Public Service that it was compelled, in its budgetary submission to the Ministry of Budget and National Planning, to stay within the limits stipulated in the template forwarded to it by the Ministry. However, we would like to request for the appropriation of the sum of N5,000,000,000.00 as Capital Subvention instead of the N750,000,000.00 allocated. The request is broken down into the following project components: Purchase/Acquisition of Land, remodeling/Construction of Office Building, Remodeling of Head Office, Construction of Zonal Offices, Architectural and Other Development Costs”, she stated.
Giving further breakdown of the project components, the penCom boss said the commission would require a total of N113,023,255,000.00 for settlement of benefits and rights of federal government retirees in 2017, as against the sum of N50,195,808,918.00 submitted by the federal government in the 2017 appropriation bill. This, she said shows a shortfall of N62,827,446,082.00.
Quoting Section 39(3) of the Pension Reform Act (PRA) 2014, she said her request is in accordance with the law.
According to her, the most critical challenge of the implementation of the Contributory Pension Scheme (CPS) in Nigeria is the non-payment of retirement benefits of federal government employees who retired in 2016 due to insufficient appropriation and late release of appropriated funds for payment of accrued pension rights.
“PenCom would like to make a case first, on the need for adequate appropriation of funds for the payment of the Federal Government’s pension liability under the Contributory Pension Scheme. Secondly, our submission also seeks appropriation for overhead and capital subvention to facilitate the Commission’s operations in 2017″, she stated.
Furthermore, she said that based on the number of verified and enrolled federal government employees that retired from January to December 2016, under the Contributory Pension Scheme (CPS) as well as deceased employees within 2016, government ought to have provided the sum of N91,914,899,000.00 in the 2016 FGN Appropriation Bill.
She however noted that instead of this, the National Assembly approved only the sum of N50,195,808,918.00 in the 2016 Appropriation Act, thereby resulting in a shortfall of N41,719,090,082.00.
The PenCom DG noted that out of the N50,195,808,918.00 appropriated for the Retirement Benefits Bond Redemption Fund (RBBRF) Account in the 2016 Appropriation Act, only N18,823,428,342.00 was released into the RBBRF Account, adding that this leaves an outstanding balance in the sum of N31,372,380,576.00 which are yet to be released for 2016.
“Accordingly, the Joint Committee on Appropriations is requested to consider and ensure the appropriation and release of the sum of N73,091,470,658.00 to pay January to December 2016 retirees of the Federal Government.
“Based on the number of verified and enrolled federal government employees that will retire from January to December in 2017 under the CPS, PenCom determined and requested for the provision of the sum of N113,023,255,000.00 in the 2017 FGN Appropriation Bill. However, we observed that in the proposal to the National Assembly, the federal government submitted only the sum of N50,195,808,918.00 in the 2017Appropriation Bill, thereby resulting in a shortfall of N62,827,446,082.00,” she stressed.
Anohu Amazu, in her presentation, also requested that government should consider and ensure the appropriation of adequate funds to facilitate the payment of the following liabilities of the Federal Government in 2017:
The sum of N10,194,184,608.00 to pay all outstanding accrued benefits for deceased and mandatory retirees of the federal government for the periods September to December 2014.
The sum of N41,719,090,082.00 being the shortfall in the 2016 Budget Appropriation.
The sum of N31,372,380,576.00 being the outstanding mandates for 7 and half months in 2016 in order to effect payment of outstanding accrued benefits for deceased and mandatory retirees of the federal government, as well as the appropriation of sufficient funds under the federal government’s Recurrent Expenditure to facilitate the implementation of the new 18% pension contributions rate.