Experts Decry Lawmakers’ Move to Probe PenCom 

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Some experts have condemned the move by the House of Representatives to probe the activities of the National Pension Commission (PenCom) since April 2017.

They are also worried that sensitive and confidential information on the industry may be exposed to the public, saying the move may cause panic among pension contributors in the country.

An ad-hoc committee of the House of Representatives has been mandated to probe activities of PenCOM.

The Committee headed by Hon. E.J. Agbonayinma, had in a letter to the Acting Director General of PenCom, Aisha Umar, dated January 21, requested confidential information on the contributory pension fund, leading to speculation in the industry on why legislators would request information that breaches the law.

In the letter titled: “Request for Information,” the committee had asked PenCom to furnish it with information on its operations as well as the status of pension contributions in Retirement Savings Accounts, contrary to the provisions of the Pension Reform Act (PRA) 2014 which forbids the Commission and members of the Commission from disclosing such information.

Among the information requested by the legislative committee are “The Net Asset Values of the Contributory Pension Funds, details of supervision and regulations of Pension Fund Administrators and their key instructions and performances, compliances and defaults, annual pension operations of all the Pension Fund Administrators (i.e. details of amount collected from contributors and amount being paid out to retirees, from April 2017 till date).”

The Committee also requested for details of investment percentages and profits from the investment of pension funds, and details of the Federal Government contributions to the Federal Government bonds.

It also asked for the “contributions of retirement savings account holders to Pension Funds Administrators and details of payments from PenCom into the Treasury Single Accounts (TSA) and bank accounts details operated by the Commission” It also requested the PenCom to respond to the request urgently.

But speaking with THISDAY, a former Managing Director of Premium Pensions Limited, Mr. Wilson Ideva said: “This shows total lack of knowledge of how the pension industry works and what the industry is all about.

“Somebody asking you to bring the account of 8.2 million RSA holders, to start with, is not possible. Also, this is a confidential matter because my RSA account is personal to me.

“It is just like if I have an account with a bank, you cannot summon the central bank to produce the bank account of every Nigeria. If PenCom does that, RSA holders that are enlightened may sue the commission and there might be pandemonium.

“The Act clearly states that RSA account is confidential and not a public document.”

Ideva, who is currently the chief executive of High Street Consulting Limited, added: “The other thing I find strange is that the pension assets, which is about N8.5 trillion is not a government fund. These are total deductions made from peoples’ salary accounts and the one the employer pays and the employers are not just the government.

“I think we need to do a lot of education for our lawmakers. I think there is a knowledge gap. Another thing I think we should address is that employers don’t remit monies to PenCom.”

On his part, the Head of Research of one of the leading PFAs said: “Some of us are ready to sue PenCom if this confidential information is given out because it is an infringement on the right of the account holders as well as the business strategies of respective operator companies.”