N3.4 billion pension funds ‘unremitted’

SOME states are holding more  than N3.4 billion pension funds deducted from their workers’ pay, it was learnt on Wednesday.

According to the Acting Director-General of the National Pension Commission (PenCom), Mrs. Aisha Dahir-Umar, the affected employees are on the payroll of the unamed state governments.

Mrs. Dahir-Umar, who dropped the hint yesterday in her keynote address at the Second Quarter Consultative Forum for states in Lagos, said Pension Fund Administrators (PFAs) returns confirmed the non-remittance of over N3.4 billion.

Represented by Deputy General Manager (DGM), States Operations Department, Dr. Dan Ndackson, the PenCom boss urged the participants to treat uncredited remittances as a major item as it denies employees the investment income that should have accrued to them.

She said over 38 per cent of the uncredited remittances had been outstanding for over one year.

Mrs. Dahir-Umar disclosed that returns submitted to the Commission by the PFAs showed that over N8.09 billion was remitted to them as pension contributions of state employees in the first quarter of this year.

Lauding some states that have collaborated with the commission in implementing the Contributory Pension Scheme (CPS), she expressed concern over Rivers and Zamfara states for introducing pension laws that are not in tandem with the philosophy of the CPS despite the Commission’s advice.

She also said that notable amongst the many achievements within the second quarter are the meetings held with the then governors-elect (now governors) of Lagos and Bauchi states.

She said: “We are also pleased to note the giant stride taken by the Benue State government recently by enacting the Benue State Pension Reform Law 2019, in May 2019.

“Besides joining the league of States that have commenced the process of implementing the CPS, the Benue State Law incorporated all the observations made by the Commission in the draft Bill before passage into law. We are therefore confident that with this sound and sustainable legal framework in place, Benue State’s implementation would not face major challenges.

“We have also noted the re-enactment of the Rivers State Pension Reform Law 2019, which repealed the Rivers State Pension Reform Law 2012 as well as the Zamfara State Contributory Pension Scheme Board Law 2019, which established a Contributory Defined Benefits Scheme.

“While states are at liberty to come up with their own pension laws, the Commission is, however, concerned that despite the collaboration with the Commission, several provisions of the pension laws of these two States’ laws that were not in tandem with the philosophy of the CPS were retained despite the Commission’s advice.”

She stressed that the key objective of the CPS is to ensure that all workers receive their retirement benefits as and when due.

Mrs. Dahir-Umar further disclosed that as part of efforts to engender best practices and to recognise excellence among states in their implementation of the CPS, the Commission has instituted an Annual Recognition/Award Event to recognize and award States and operators that are foremost in implementing the CPS.

“The maiden edition for the year 2019 would be coming in the first quarter of next year and the details would be discussed at this Forum in the course of the year”, she added.