Premium Pension Managers Hosts Pension Desk Officers' Forum

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Ebere Nwoji

Premium Pension Limited, one of the licensed Pension Fund Operators (PFAs), recently measured the success of the Contributory Pension Scheme (CPS) through the organisation of pension desk officers forum in Abuja.
The forum, according to the company, was aimed at evaluating the workings of the CPS and charting ways of enhancing operational effectiveness of pension business.

According to the Head, Corporate Communications of Premium Pensions, Paddy Ezeala, the forum organised by the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) Region of the company, serves as a routine industry requirement that provides opportunity for stakeholders to keep abreast of current trends in the industry.

Executive Director and acting Managing Director/CEO of the company, Kabir Ahmed Tijjani, at the opening of the forum at the firm’s Corporate Headquarters in Abuja, said: “This forum provides an opportunity to identify challenges faced by clients and collectively proffer clarifications and solutions.

“There are still challenges facing the CPS in its 13 years of operation especially in the area of public awareness of the law and the workings of the scheme.”
Tijjani, further pointed out that the regulatory body, the National Pension Commission, (PenCom) and the National Association of Pension Operators of Nigeria, (PenOp) have been doing a lot in the area of generation of public awareness of the immense advantages and desirability of the scheme.

His view was shared by the Investment Analyst at PenCom Ibrahim Kangiwa who at the event said; “We are working with PFAs to reach all stakeholders, the media and the public and private sectors to ensure increased awareness of the scheme.”
The forum provided a platform to appreciate the tremendous success Premium Pension has witnessed since coming on stream in 2005.

Participants at the forum were educated on the workings and usage of the Electronic Pension Contribution Collection System (EPCCOS), withdrawal from Voluntary Contribution and Enhanced Programmed Withdrawal and also the soon-to-be-introduced Multi-fund Structure.
EPCCOS, is a payment platform that makes it convenient for employers to make pension payments online to several PFAs with relevant schedules uploaded simultaneously.

This system, developed by the Nigerian Inter-Bank Settlement Systems Plc (NIBBS) at the instance of PenOp would soon be the sole platform for pension contribution remittances in Nigeria. It tracks payment schedule such that each payment batch can be uniquely identified.
The new guidelines and safeguards regarding withdrawals from voluntary contribution were shared with participants at the forum. This is mainly with regard to limits, periodicity and also foreign contributors.

The proposed Multi-Fund Structure regarding the investment of pension funds is geared towards enhanced protection of pension funds from undue exposure to risk, beginning with funds of contributors in the twilight of their careers and gives active contributors opportunity to opt for the investment that aligns with their risk appetite

Both the imperative of the Contributory Pension Scheme and the intricacy of its operations as well as individual and collective responsibilities of all stakeholders came to light at the forum. So also was the general renewed commitment to its continued success.
Premium Pension Limited now has customer base spread in over one thousand organisations with over 700,000 Retirement Savings Accounts (RSAs).

NBS Commits to Use of TSA, Cultivates Sectorial Partnerships

As part of the efforts to ensure a more robust and realistic aggregation of tourism statistics in Nigeria, the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) has committed to use of the Tourism Satellite Accounts (TSA) framework.
Recommended by the World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO), the TSA framework, adopted in 2015 by the NBS, links all tourism and travel statistics in Nigeria with the national accounts framework before national GDP is calculated.

Speaking at a recent interactive session in Lagos with members of the Association of Travel & Tourism Writers of Nigeria (ATTWON), the Statistician-General of the Federation and Chief Executive Officer of NBS, Dr. Yemi Kale stated that until recently “tourism data has been disaggregated and oftentimes fragmented.”

“We have begun to build the structure to compile the Tourism Satellite Accounts,” Kale said,
The NBS, according to him, has already established collaboration with such stakeholders as the Nigerian Tourism Development Corporation (NTDC) and the Nigerian Immigration Service (NIS) to build a system of tourism statistics that feeds into the TSA.

He added that a broader platform will soon be established to function as a forum where other stakeholders can also put forward their contributions towards the development of a robust TSA.
The TSA developed by UNWTO in 2008, adopts the basic system of concepts, classifications, definitions, tables and aggregates of the System of National Accounts 2008 (SNA 2008), the international standard for a systematic summary of national economic activity, from a functional perspective.

It allows for the harmonisation and reconciliation of tourism statistics from an economic (National Accounts) perspective.
This enables the generation of tourism economic data such as Tourism Direct GDP that is comparable with other economic statistics.

DKale, who was represented by Technical Adviser to the Statistician-General, National Bureau of Statistics, Mrs. Lola Talabi-Oni, noted that developing tourism had various far-reaching benefits ranging from job creation to increased revenue through taxes and foreign exchange to improved local infrastructure.

He said that it directly impacts the transportation, accommodation & food services, and the arts and entertainment sectors.
Kale said the contribution of tourism to GDP using the Supply and Use Table of Nigeria was a measurement of Tourism Value Added.

The contribution of tourism to GDP declined from 2.34 per cent in 2010 to 1.77 per cent in 2011 to 1.22 per cent in 2012.
Although transportation constitutes the highest contribution of Tourism to GDP, it declined from 70 per cent in 2010 to just over 50 per cent in 2012.

On the converse, hotels and accommodation which contributed 20 per cent to the tourism economy in 2010 grew to 45 per cent in 2012.
Kale noted that though there were over 1000 hotels in Nigeria, very few were predominantly used by inbound tourists.

He revealed the NBS was “in the process of designing a template, in collaboration with other supervisory agencies and associations to further capture the composition and main growth drivers within this sub-sector.”
Kale stated that soon it will be possible to collect and disseminate indicators on occupancy rates, room capacity, bed capacity, total foreign guest nights and average room rates across the country.

The NBS is already publishing quarterly reports on international and domestic air passenger traffic.
“We have a large domestic market to feed into the demand side of tourism, and increasing globalisation and decreasing international air flight costs, have translated into an expanding foreign market and interest in Nigeria. It is projected that the Lagos airport will receive over 10,000 passengers per day by 2031. For the supply side, we are endowed with various existing and potential areas of tourist attractions and destinations all across Nigeria,” Kale said.

In her remarks, the President, ATTWON, Ms. Omolola Itayemi, commended the NBS for the new partnership between the Association and the agency in the reportage of the industry. She pledged the Association’s commitment to professionalism by its members.

SON, Stakeholders Introduce Anti-Corrosion Roofing Sheet
The Standards Organisation of Nigeria (SON) and stakeholders in the galvanised steel roofing sheets have partnered to improve the modification of existing roofing sheets with superior qualities for better performance and efficiency.

Indeed, the standards body has been inundated with complaints over the thickness and coating of galvanised steel sheets in the country. Hence, the need to improve on the quality and thickness of steel roofing sheets cannot be overemphasised.

Speaking on the development, the Director General, SON, Osita Aboloma, stated that the new zinc, aluminum and magnesium roofing sheets is five times better and stronger than the existing zinc coating roofing sheets. He spoke during a technical committee meeting with stakeholders in the galvanised roofing sheets to elaborate on standards for Zinc, Aluminum and Magnesium coated steel sheet for general application in Lagos,

The SON boss who was represented by the Assistant Director and Head, Mandatory Conformity Assessment Programme (MANCAP) Unit, SON, Fred Akingbesote, said: “It is a new technology and this is why we are preparing a standard in conjunction with all the stakeholders. To us, the end user is our priority in drafting standards. We have considered the cost and the longevity, because there is no need to put a product into the market and nobody buys it. The zinc, aluminum and magnesium coating will be suitable and would also give the common man value for money spent.”

He however stated that the zinc coated steel sheets would still be in the market, stressing that the zinc, aluminum and magnesium would serve as alternatives depending on the choice of the consumers.
“This standard is not just for roofing sheets, but for general application. There are various thickness and coating levels depending on the application,” he said.

Also speaking at the event, the Chairman of the committee from the University of Lagos, Department of Metallurgical and Materials Engineering, Dr. Henry Mgbemere, said standards keep evolving, adding that the technical meeting was specifically targeted at keeping stakeholders abreast of latest technologies used around the world.

In his words: “Before now, we have been using the zinc coating for coating steel products for roofing, but there is a recent development and we have to key into what is happening around the world, which means there is need for a new standard that would take care of the zinc, aluminum and magnesium coating for general application.”

According to him, when the standards are approved, the common man would be able to purchase more durable and affordable products, adding that the zinc, aluminum and magnesium coated roofing sheets is more like a composite material that would give consumers value for their hard earned money spent.

“This meeting will provide a workable document that will be agreeable to the manufacturers so that they produce goods that the end users will find consumable. Nigeria is still more of an import dependent country, but I believe that with the review of the standards and other ones we will gradually move from an import dependent country to a country that manufactures for export,” he said

The Executive Director, Midland Galvanising Products Limited, Raj Singh, said zinc, aluminum and magnesium coated roofing sheet is a five time better corrosion resistant product suitable for the Nigerian environment, pointing out that the life span of the product is five times better than the zinc coated steel roofing sheet.

“Zinc coating is a sacrificial corrosion, but if you add aluminum and magnesium, the corrosion reduces drastically. This trend is the same all over the world. This is a pride for Nigeria and with the help of SON and stakeholders in the industry, Nigerian consumers should expect nothing but quality when the standard is finally approved from the standards council,” he said.