Buhari Parleys Pencom On Delayed Retirement Benefits

President Muhammadu Buhari on Wednesday met with officials of the Pensions Commission (PenCom) at the State House, Abuja where he directed them to urgently resolve the problems preventing some retirees from accessing their benefits.

The Director General of PenCom, Chinelo Anohu-Amazu, disclosed this to State House correspondents after she led the officials to the meeting during which she briefed the President on the state of affairs in the nation’s pension sector.

She explained that much of the problems arose in the course of transition from the old automatic pension system to the current contributory pension scheme.

“The President directed for immediate resolution. Most of them who are not able to access their benefits, had to do with accrued rights, those who were federal government workers and had moved to the contributory pensions systems midway into their career.

“So they have accrued right coming from their past service under the defined benefit of the federal government and what you have is because our budget is not as robust as we would wish, we have dwindling resources and every sector of the economy is affected.

“But the President has also directed that this matter be looked into and prioritized so that those who have retired receive their payment benefits as at when due”, she said.

Ahonu-Amazu revealed that Buhari also directed PenCom to work with the National Economic Council (NEC) to ensure that all the states governments comply fully with PenCom requirements as soon as possible to get more people onto the pension scheme, especially as only 11 per cent of workers are captured so far.

She specifically said:  “He has directed that we work with the Vice-President so that we can get the NEC to work with PenCom to ensure that all the states are in full compliance as soon as possible.

“The PenCom reforms has introduced the pension contributory scheme. The scorecard remains that we have 6.637million retirement savings account holders today.”

“What that has done is show us the opportunity for more people to get in because that is only about 11% of the working population and the scheme has also given the Retirement Savings Account holder freedom to determine how his retirement benefit would be administered.”

The PenCom boss gave curious journalists the assurance that the Commission was going to work with the appropriate law enforcement agencies to curtail the incidences of employers who deduct from employees’ salaries without remiting them to the Retirement Savings Account.

Her words: “Right now even in PenCom, we have a whole department devoted to enforcement and compliance.  We have also engaged recovery agents

because the compliance is on many level, some people have made deductions from their salaries and have not been remitted into their

Retirement Savings Account (RSA).

“We are calling out to those people and we are going to work with the appropriate law enforcement agencies because it is a financial crime to take money out of an employees salary and do not then remit it to his Retirement Savings Account. It is something we take seriously.

“Then those who have not even complied at all, who have no RSA, who have no savings and part of what the commission is prioritising this year is to ensure that very one, it doesn’t mean that you have to be in a formal employment, those in the informal sector will also be brought under the scheme because they are the ones that are most in need of a retirement saving plan.”

She equally assured that Pencom, being the regulatory body, constantly monitors the pension administrators to ensure their fidelity to clients, which is why there have been no known cases of mismanagement of funds so far.

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