- Contributors urged to monitor their accounts
Ndubuisi Francis in Abuja
The National Pension Commission (Pencom) is considering an enhanced pension for retirees in the country, even as current economic realities trigger an uptick in unfunded Retirement Savings Accounts (RSAs) under the Contributory Pension Scheme (CPS).
The Regional Manager, North-Central, Trustfund Pensions, Mrs. Emusiri Oshodi, who made the disclosure in Abuja on the sidelines of a pre-retirement and retiree forum, organized for intending retirees and retirees operating RSAs with Trustfund, recalled that in December 2017, the first set of retirees in the country enjoyed an enhanced pension under the Contributory Pension Scheme.
Oshodi stated that the pension industry regulator—National Pension Commission (Pencom) is currently working out modalities for another enhanced pension package for retirees.
“The reigning issue for this pre-retirement and retiree forum will be the retirees asking how soon will their pensions be enhanced, especially in view of what happened early year, where the federal government agreed on increasing the minimum wage. They retirees think ordinarily it should affect them, and we agree it should affect them.
“One of the issues is that the retirees want to understand how soon their pensions can be enhanced and the first time it was enhanced was in December 2017. Currently, as we speak, the regulator, Pencom, is looking at enhancing pensions again.”
According to her, “the pre-retirement and retiree forum is an annual event where we engage them, tell them the new issues in the industry. We find a way of interacting with them one-on-one, letting them know that we care about their welfare.”
Oshodi said one of the issues featuring at the forum was thú7ùe National Identity Number (NIN) being handled by the National Identity Management Commission (NIMC)
“It’s an ecosystem being created by NIMC and everybody is supposed to be a part of that ecosystem, and we are currently doing data recapture for those who are about to retire and those who have already retired and those who are still active so that they can be incorporated into the ecosystem,” she said.
She urged employers to make it obligatory for their employees to be involved, adding that nobody feels he or she is under any sort of compulsion to get into the NIN .
She cautioned that there would come a time that without the NIN, taking part in anything would be difficult.
Also in an interview, the Customer Relations Manager, Trustfund, Mrs. Rachael Osa-Obi, advised that in preparation for their retirement, employees should be conscious of the balance in their RSAs, whether their employers are remitting or not.
All legacy issues, she admonished, should be handled well and sorted out before retirees approach Trustfund for the payment of their pensions, “so that when they come, payment is seamless.”
“ We’ve been told to do what they call data recapture. That’s in consonance with the federal government’s directive. They want to have a common database for all Nigerians so that when they look in, they find out that your name, your date of birth is the same,“ Osa-Obi said.
She stated that a major drawback currently facing the pension scheme was the growing number of unfunded RSAs by employers, particularly in the private sector, occasioned by the current economic realities.
“Majorly, we all know that when it comes to employment in this country, that’s a problem. Many youths are unemployed. You don’t expect our membership to grow with that kind of employment problem in the country.
“We have a situation where, especially those in the private sector are not remitting. They will tell you that business is not doing well, and they are not remitting. They are laying off. Even those that are there, they are not paying them. They want to pay over a period of time. We are having a lot of unfunded accounts; a lot of them,” she lamented.
In another interview, the Managing Director, Access Pension Fund Custodian, Mr. Tony Nwume, noted that one of the major challenges in the pension industry was the poor understanding between the Contributory Pension Scheme and Defined Benefit which was in place in the past.
He said: “There are still some people who are yet to understand that for now, the difference is that you earn on your pension as you contribute. So, it is based on what you contributed that you earn. A lot of people still mix it up with the previous one (Defined Benefit) where there is an amount that is defined for you. So, that is one of the major challenges. But I think, overtime, people are beginning to understand.” Nwume said the Contributory Pension Scheme was more favourable to retirees than the now-rested Defined Benefit, adding that retirees are now better paid than before.
“Up till now, a lot of people who retired in the previous arrangement have not received their money. But you can imagine that people who retired in 2007 are already receiving money. So, the CPS is far better than the defined benefit,” he stressed, adding that it could still be better than what it is presently.