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Chuks Udo Okonta
The National Pension Commission (PenCom) has implored the Senate to assist in ensuring that retirees’ accrued pension rights are paid to enable them received their pension benefits as they retire.
Its Director-General, Mrs. Aisha Dahir-Umar, said this in her remarks on the occasion of oversight visit of the Senate Committee on Establishment & Public Services to the National Pension Commission yesterday in Abuja.
She noted that it was sad to report that there are, today, a large number of Federal Government employees who retired from March 2020 to March 2021 under the CPS that are yet to receive their pensions due to non-payment of their Accrued Pension Rights.
“It is perhaps appropriate at this juncture to highlight some of the major challenges of the Commission. As you are aware, the fundamental objective of the pension reform is to ensure that every worker receives his retirement benefits as and when due. However, it is sad to report that there are, today, a large number of Federal Government employees who retired from March 2020 to March 2021 under the CPS that are yet to receive their pensions due to non-payment of their Accrued Pension Rights.
“This challenge, which started in 2014, was essentially triggered by the appropriation of insufficient amounts for payment of Accrued Pension Rights of FGN retirees and further aggravated by late or non-release of full appropriated amounts,” she said.
Other challenges faced by the commission according to her, include FGN’s non-compliance with the new minimum statutory rate of pension contribution of 18 per cent since 2014; non-payment of approved 15 per cent and 33 per cent pension increases to pensioners under the CPS; non-payment of shortfall for payment of full retirement benefits of retired Heads of Service and Permanent Secretaries; and non-payment of FGN Pension Protection Levy. These have created sad and negative impression on the full realization of the objectives of the CPS in Nigeria, she said.
“PenCom appreciates the role played by this Senate Committee in the past, to move the National Assembly to intervene in the matter of payment of outstanding pension liabilities of the Federal Government.
“However, we still have not yet surmounted this challenge, because pension liability is a moving target that increases on monthly basis as FGN employees retire. Thus, like the proverbial Oliver Twist, we would to, once again, solicit the continued support of this distinguished Senate Committee to assist the Commission in surmounting this challenge of outstanding pension liabilities of the Federal Government to its workers and retirees,” submitted.
She also pointed out that another issue that is worth mentioning to the distinguished Committee was the persistent complaints against certain sections of the Pension Reform Act 2014, which need amendments. This, she said is normal with every new system and the experience of the CPS in Nigeria is bound to be the same. Consequently, the Commission had obtained inputs from critical stakeholders and cataloged their proposed amendments of provisions of the PRA 2014.
However, as was done in the first review exercise that birthed the present Act, it is imperative to subject the proposed amendments to extensive experts’ and stakeholders’ engagements prior to presentation to the Federal Executive Council and then National Assembly for further legislative action, she posited.