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Proposal for pension law amendment underway

06 July 2012, 09:10

A proposal to amend existing pension laws so as to make them more virile will soon be forwarded to the National Assembly, an official said in Abuja on Thursday.

Mr Mohammed Ahmad, the Director-General of the National Pension Commission (PENCOM), disclosed this at a one-day stakeholders’ forum.

He said the review became necessary following observed defects in pension fund administration in the country after the recent probe of some pension departments.

Ahmad said the proposed amendment would restore stakeholders’ confidence in the management of pension funds.

``We are, however, still consulting with stakeholders,’’ the PENCOM Director-General said.

He added that the commission planned to submit a proposal on the review to the government for approval.

Ahmad said a bill would be sent after this to the National Assembly for an amendment of the National Pensions Reform Act.

``First, it has to do with compliance. Today, as an employee you are not compelled to open a retirement savings account (RSA).

``This does not mandate your employer to contribute for you. This will be changed in the new act,’’ he said.

Ahmad said stricter sanctions are presently not as strict as they should be.

``But we hope that, by the time we amend the law, we may compel employers even if it means instituting a criminal action against them to ensure that they comply,” he said.

Ahmad added that the issue of the percentage of contribution by both the employer and the employee would also be addressed in the new act.

The PENCOM Director-General, who expressed dismay at the recent fraud that was unearthed by the House of Representatives in some pension departments, said that the proposed review would address the anomaly.

He however said one of the challenges experienced under the present pension regime was that most pension departments preferred to deal directly with their parent ministry.

Ahmad said they should have been liaising with the commission as prescribed by the existing laws.

On the participation of states in the pension scheme, he said the commission would continue to encourage states to participate in the scheme.

The PENCOM Director-General noted that under the present laws, state governments were exempted from the mandatory contributory pension.

He said they were only encouraged to have a pension scheme, whether it is contributory or not.

On the MDAs’ participation, Ahmad said PENCOM had got the support of the executive arm of government to mandate all government establishments to remit to it resources deducted for pension purposes.

He debunked insinuations in some quarters that the commission was planning to revert to the old pension scheme in view of the emerging challenges.

He said the present act has adequate provisions to address the present difficulties.

Mr Ibrahim Kamba, the Chairman, House of Representatives’ Committee on Pension, while speaking at the occasion, said the National Assembly was committed to reforming the pension industry in the country.

He said it would support any proposal aimed at enhancing the welfare of the Nigerian worker.

The committee chairman denied any rift between the House and the Senate over the report on fraud in the pension industry.

``The idea of a dispute between both chambers of the National Assembly over the matter is the figment of the imagination of detractors,’’ he said.

Kamba said the two legislative chambers were united in the bid to ensure a speedy resolution of discrepancies in the management of pension funds in the country

The stakeholders’ forum was attended by some members of the National Assembly, the management of PENCOM and representatives of pension fund administrators.



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