WELCOME REMARKS BY AISHA DAHIR-UMAR, DIRECTOR GENERAL, NATIONAL PENSION COMMISSION, AT THE JOURNALISTS WORKSHOP ORGANIZED BY THE COMMISSION ON 26-27, JULY,2021 RADISSON BLU HOTEL, IKEJA, LAGOS
Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen
I am highly delighted to welcome you all to the PenCom 2021 Journalists’ Workshop. This annual effort is aimed at contributing and strengthening the capacity of the media in ensuring effective reportage of the Contributory Pension Scheme (CPS) and other related pension issues. It is the expectation of the Commission that the Workshop would provide updates on its current transformational initiatives and strengthen the Commission’s collaboration with the media. There have been significant developments since 2019 when the last workshop was held in Benin City. The Workshop could not hold in 2020 due to the COVID-19 Pandemic.
The emergence of the COVID-19 Pandemic necessitated a review of business processes across various organizations; indeed, it has engendered socio-economic disruptions of the entire global order, with multifarious challenges in conducting hitherto routine activities. It was therefore, imperative for the Commission to deepen technological innovation as it seeks to navigate through the challenges imposed by the pandemic. The theme of this workshop; “Positioning the Pension Industry in a Post COVID Era” highlights the Commission’s laudable response to the pandemic through technology and engagement with relevant stakeholders.
Distinguished Journalists, the Commission is not unmindful of your critical role in disseminating factual information to its stakeholders. It is therefore, imperative to continually interact and apprise you with recent developments in the pension industry and some of the Commission’s major activities.
I am therefore, elated to inform you that His Excellency, President Muhammadu Buhari, GCFR had recently approved the Commission’s submission on the payment of some outstanding pension liabilities of the Federal Government, under the CPS. The Presidential approval covered payment of outstanding accrued pension rights for verified and enrolled retirees of treasury-funded MDAs that are yet to be paid their retirement benefits, as well as the back log of death benefits claims due to beneficiaries of deceased employees of treasury funded MDAs.
Furthermore, the President also approved the payment of 2.5 percent differential in the rate of employer pension contribution for FGN retirees and employees, which resulted from the increase in the minimum pension contribution for employers from 7.5 percent to 10 percent, in line with Section 4(1) of the Pension Reform Act (PRA) 2014.
These payments would undoubtedly, boost the RSA balances of the beneficiaries towards better retirement benefits. The settlement of these outstanding accrued pension rights of verified and enrolled FGN retirees would result in reversing a major challenge that has lingered since 2014. Also, the commencement of payment of the reviewed monthly pension contribution rate by the Federal Government is another significant step in ensuring compliance with the PRA 2014.
The most recent technological innovation introduced by the Commission is the in-house designed and developed online Enrolment Application, which has capabilities to register, verify and enroll prospective retirees of Treasury-Funded Federal Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs). By the deployment of this new application, mass gathering of people has been avoided while enhancing convenience for the prospective retirees through a seamless enrolment process.
Another notable technological innovation by the Commission was the design and deployment of the Retirement Savings Account (RSA) Transfer System (RTS), which was launched in November 2020. The RTS is a Computer Application developed by the Commission, through which RSA holders transfer their RSAs from one Pension Fund Administrator (PFA) to another. Indeed, the activation of the RSA transfer provision, which deepens individual choices, is a major milestone in the implementation of the CPS.
Furthermore, it is pertinent to reassure stakeholders that the implementation of the CPS remains on course. The number of registered contributors under the CPS has grown to 9.38 million while pension fund assets have accumulated to N12.66 trillion as at 30 June 2021. The maintenance of a consistent growth trajectory continues to justify the Commission’s overriding investment philosophy of ensuring the safety of pension fund assets.
Distinguished Participants, the sessions at this Workshop will commence with a presentation on the Commission’s Strategic Focus Areas. These comprise areas of emphasis that are pursued vigorously towards the attainment of the Commission’s objectives.
Public Enlightenment and education is one of the five Strategic Focus Areas currently pursued by the Commission. This is considered germane considering that seventeen years after the pension reform in Nigeria, there still exists a knowledge gap on the CPS.
Consequently, the Commission is committed to reinvigorating its public enlightenment and education drive in order to address this challenge.
Other Strategic Focus Areas include the resolution of outstanding pension liabilities of the Federal Government; portfolio diversification of pension fund investments, improvement in customer service delivery across the pension industry and unrelenting pursuit of sustainable growth of the pension industry by expanding coverage of the CPS.
The second presentation at this Workshop titled ‘Understanding the RSA Transfer Process’, provides insights into the features of the RSA Transfer System (RTS), which enables the seamless transfer of RSAs from one PFA to another. The third presentation is on the online Enrolment Application for verification and enrolment of prospective retirees of Treasury-Funded MDAs.
Finally, I wish to express the Commission’s immense gratitude to you all, particularly for the commendable support in reporting the activities of the pension industry. I also urge you to note that the ultimate goal of this workshop is to impart sufficient knowledge about the topical issues to enable you educate the public.
Therefore, I encourage you to make this Workshop as interactive as possible by sharing your concerns and observations where necessary. I wish you all successful participation at this Workshop.
Thank you and God bless.