By Bennett Oghifo
The National Pension Commission (PenCom) has said it would target the informal sector in the first quarter of 2017, considering successes recorded by the new pension reform, which led to significant increase in pensions assets to N6 trillion.
The Director General of the Commission, Mrs. Chinelo Anohu-Amazu, stated this at the weekend at an executive breakfast meeting held by Society for Corporate Governance Nigeria, with the theme: “Corporate Governance : a pension Industry perspective.”
According to Anohu-Amazu, the decision was based on the number of people in the informal sector, stating that they constituted a large chunk of the nation’s work force.
The DG, represented by Head, Research and Corporate Strategy Department of the Commission, Dr. Farouk Aminu, said the macro-pension scheme was being introduced to the grassroots to enable an effective system.
“The macro-pension scheme is going down to the grass roots and make sure that people understand, not only understand pension but also participate.”
The PenCom boss added that pension transitional arrangement directory has been introduced to cater for those that are exempted from the contributory pension scheme.
The commission, she said has further introduced certain safeguards as a corporate governance mechanism to ensure safety of the contributory pension scheme, listing some of these measures to include investing 71 per cent of the N6 trillion equity in federal government securities, N50 billion mortgage refinancing, strong legal and institutional framework, separation of custody from administrative of pension assets, meticulous investment limits and risks rating requirement, as well as segregation of Pension funds from assets of operators and daily monitoring of investment of pension funds.
She noted that before the reform in 2004, the pension system had enormous challenges, including lack of effective regulation and supervision in both public and private sector, adding that most private schemes were resignation rather than retirement scheme.
She said: “There is lack of transparency and implementation of pension, we had issues with poor administration, corruption, lack of pension data base, issues of addition of ghost pensioners, issues of government giving money to pension administrators to pay money and they will refuse to pay.”
Some of these issues, she said have been tackled with the reform of the pension scheme, adding that the macro-pension scheme was being introduced to the grassroots to enable an effective system.
“The macro-pension scheme is going down to the grass roots and make sure that people understand, not only understand pension but also participate,” she said.
The DG, however, called for more awareness to enable the common man benefit from the pension scheme.
She said: “It is better you open a savings account that will give you pension when you need the pension, the trouble we have is that when people are making a lot of money they don’t think that tomorrow will be bad, so they consume everything, we are trying to make them understand that they need to save and plan for their future in order to have a quality old life when you are old.”