Our attention has been drawn to the publication credited to the Trade Union Congress (TUC) Rivers State chapter on the Guideline for Withdrawal of Voluntary Contribution. It is pertinent to note that by virtue of Section 23(b) of the Pension Reform Act 2014, the National Pension Commission has the statutory mandate to issue guidelines, rules and regulations for the administration of pension funds. This provision was re-emphasized under the clear provision of Section 115 on the power to make regulations.
The acknowledgement that the Commission is about to issue a Guideline without due consultation clearly smirks a misconception of the intention of the Commission as well as ignorance of the procedure for issuance of Guidelines. Exposing the draft guidelines to all relevant stakeholders of the pension industry, including labour for their comments and input.
Sequel to the consultative approach of the National Pension Commission over matters that it has right under the extant statute to deal with, the draft Guidelines on Voluntary Contribution was exposed to all pension operators for review and comments. Consequently, the reactionary response does not warrant the duration for the expected comments and /or review intended and canvassed by the Commission.
The threat of disruption of work issued by the River State chapter of the TUC is unwarranted and contrary to extant labour laws. It is indeed worthy to note that the Trade Union Congress of Nigeria (TUC) and Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC) are represented at the highest level of their leadership on the Board of the National Pension Commission. It is therefore an obvious contradiction to insinuate the absence of consultation in the process of subsidiary legislation by the Commission. Consequently, the threat is utterly uncalled for and cannot be a reasonable basis for friction.
It is very worrisome indeed that the obvious lack of appreciation of the terms and script of the subject matter of the threat (i.e. draft Guidelines on Withdrawal of Voluntary Contribution) implies that it has neither been read nor seen prior to the publication. It is our submission that an appropriate enlightenment on the provision of the draft and exposed subsidiary legislation is paramount for a deep appreciation of the issues canvassed in the draft guideline and appropriate and constructive response and/or observations forwarded to the Commission. This would be the only commendable approach to the comfort of all voluntary contributors under the Contributory Pension Scheme (CPS).
In the light of the above, it is imperative to note that the provisions of the draft Guidelines on Voluntary Contributions do not negate Section 4(3), Section 10(4) or any other Section in the Pension Reform Act, 2014.The Commission therefore wish to draw the attention of the public to the following:
1. RSA contributions should not be confused with Bank Savings Accounts. RSAs are in fact and indeed not the same as Bank Accounts.
2. Voluntary Contributions into RSAs are meant to boost Contributors’ final pension.
3. The draft Guidelines on Voluntary Contributions are consistent and aligns with Government’s fight against financial malpractices and money laundering.
4. The draft Guidelines on Voluntary Contributions is still an exposure draft. It is pertinent for The TUC Rivers State Council to harmonise its position on the issue and make useful input to the draft Guidelines.