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Government agencies, others flay bill on Pension Reform Act

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Pension

Say it will expose retirees to more pains
A bill to amend the Pension Reform Act (PRA) 2014 at the National Assembly, which has gone through first and second reading, has been opposed by agencies, saying if passed into law, it would increase the financial burden of the Federal Government.

The Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), the Nigerian Police Force (NPF), the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), and others stakeholders in the pension industry argued that the bill should be discarded in order to avoid the loss of confidence in the pension sector of the economy.

Their views were made known at the public hearing on the bill for Act to amend the PRA 2014, by Pensions Committee, House of Representatives, chaired by Hon Hassan Adamu Shekarau, in Abuja.

Speaking at the public hearing, the President, NLC, Ayuba Wabba, said the bills looked good on the surface, but invariably will destroy the future of workers, adding that the position of the Congress is that they be dropped.

He noted that the bills are not workable, and if implemented, would collapse the pension system, adding that the federal government cannot absorb more financial burden given the present low revenue.

The Inspector General of Police, Ibrahim Idris, who was represented by a Commissioner for Police, David Bodo, said the NPF Pension Fund Administrator (PFA), has done very well, and the Police is of the opinion that it will remain with the CPS.

He called on the government to attend to the issues already raised by the force, which are being attended to by the National Pension Commission (PenCom), stressing that the welfare of the Nigerian Police would be well taken care of under the CPS.

The National Insurance Commission (NAICOM) also supported the retention of the para-military with the CPS.

A former Board Member, National Pension Commission (PenCom), and Director, Centre for Pension Right Advocacy, Ivor Takor, called for the withdrawal of the bills as they will be a burden to the government.

The Certified Pension Institute of Nigeria (CPIN), said exempting the paramilitary from the scheme will be retrogressive to the economy, adding that PenCom should be empowered to regulate properly, and be encouraged to do more research and listen to people.

The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), also kicked against the exemption of the paramilitary, as the government may not have the money to cater for pensions of the workers if they are exempted.

CBN noted that going by current realities, especially now that the nation depends more on oil, which the world is presently turning away from, it would be difficult to cater for the pension of members of the paramilitary if they are exempted.

A former Director-General PenCom, Mohammed Ahmad, said there is need to sustain policies, adding that the number of people seeking exemption may be up 50 per cent of government workers, which it cannot cater for.

He said the budget cannot sustain the exemption, as the CPS remains a safe vehicle for creating national saving, and urged that policies should be made for posterity and history, not for themselves, adding that if there were issues, they should be addressed accordingly.

The President, Pension Fund Operators Association of Nigeria (PenOp), Longe Eguarekhide, identified the critical issue with the CPS as funding, stressing that policymakers should always think of ways to improve lives instead of creating more burden for the government.

The Acting Director General, PenCom, Aisha Dahir-Umar, said the issues raised are challenges presently being worked on, adding that the challenge is temporal and would be resolved very soon.

She said it is a misinformation that the paramilitary is exempted in India, adding that the military that is exempted from the CPS is regretting the exemption.

“It is wrong to ask one to give what he does not have. The government has being borrowing to pay salaries, and cannot continue to borrow to pay pension.



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