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Trustfund decries harsh operating environment


TRUSTFUNDRetirement savings account hits N196b

THE instability in the capital market and non-payment of salaries are factors that impacted negatively on the performances of Pension Funds Administrators (PFAs), the Board Chairman of Trustfund Pension Plc, Mrs. Ngozi Olejeme has said.
Speaking at the Seventh yearly meeting in Abuja at the weekend, Olejeme, described 2014 as a stormy year for the pension industry.

The Managing Director of Trustfund, Mrs. Helen Da-Souza hinted that the foremost PFA grew funds under management by 20% from N163.8 billion in 2013 to N196.1 billion in 2014.

She added: “Also, the Retirement Savings Account (RSA) fund grew from N163.81 in 2013 to N196.13 billion in 2014 while the Retirees fund grew by 8% from N24.68 billion in 2013 to N26.69 billion in 2014.”

She solicited the support of Trustfund major stakeholders that include Nigeria Social Insurance Trust Fund (NSITF), NECA, NLC and TUC for the continued sustenance of the growth.

Olejeme, who spoke through a director in the company, Peter Esele, said: “If one looks at the fact that Trustfund management declared the same 25Kobo dividend in 2013 and 2014, one may not appreciate how the difficulty in the environment in 2014 was. We should not forget that the preparations for the 2015 general elections was at all-time high in 2014, the crash in the price of crude oil in the international market also happened in the same year and non-payment of salaries even at the federal level also took place during that year.

There was also the devaluation of the Naira and we also witnessed the instability of the stock market where we invested about 30% of our money. Overall, we have about 70% of our resources invested in one form of money market or the other. Coupled with all of these, were all the negative forecasts about the outcome of the general elections.

All of these were formidable factors that impacted negatively on the performances of businesses. So, for us, to be able to march what was declared in 2013 is a great achievement.

We are also very happy that the shareholders showed massive understanding, during the trying period. We are hopeful that with an improving operating environment this year, our shareholders will smile more next year.”

Esele insisted that despite occasional difficult operating environment, the future for a robust contributory pension scheme is assured.

He explained that with fierce speed corruption permeating the social fabric of the Nigerian society, it has find it difficult to penetrate the contributory pension scheme owing to the safety guideline put in place to safeguard the funds.

“With corruption registering its overwhelming presence in most parts of our national lives, we have not heard any corruption related issues in the contributory pension scheme. the scheme has enough checks and balances that make it practically impossible for anybody to lay hands on the money.

Every contributor knows how much he or she has contributed because every contributor receives alert on phone or electronic mails indicating the figures every month. So, people know how much they are entitled to at the end of their work life. The contributory pension scheme is one of the things that have happened to the Nigerian worker,” he said.

Esele also cautioned government tapping into pension funds for infrastructural development, saying such a move may jeopardize the future of pensioners.

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