PenCom DG, Aishat Dahir-Umar speech at Sensitization of Civil Society Group on Micro-Pension Plan

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Distinguished Ladies and GentlemenI am highly delighted to welcome you all to this sensitization Conference for Civil Society groups. The theme of this year’s conference is ‘Enhancing Informal Sector Participation in the Contributory Pension Scheme: The Roles of Civil Society Groups’.

This conference provides a great opportunity for the Commission to enlighten and interact with relevant Civil Society Groups in order to elicit better understanding of the Contributory Pension Scheme (CPS) and the Commission’s activities in general. Distinguished participants, this Conference, which is the second in the series, has become quite imperative due to your critical roles as the bridge between government agencies and the public, thus, the need to constantly interact and inform you of recent developments in the pension industry and some of the other laudable transformational initiatives by the Commission.

The Micro Pension Plan (MPP) was conceptualized to expand pension coverage to the informal sector, including small-scale businesses, entertainers, professionals, petty traders, artisans, and entrepreneurs.  I am pleased to inform you that members of the Civil Society Groups are also welcome to participate and save for their old age. The MPP aims to curb old-age poverty by assisting the participants to contribute while working and build long-term savings to fall back on when they are no longer in active working life.

 Given the peculiarities of the target participants, the Commission is facilitating efforts by the Pension Fund Administrators to provide incentives for the MPP. One key incentive that is being worked upon is the provision of health insurance to the Micro Pension contributors. This recognizes the need for the MPP to provide more access to health care services, which is often lacking in critical times of need.The Strategic efforts to drive the Micro Pension Plan (MPP) remains one of the important areas of focus of the Commission.

 Therefore, it is the Commission’s expectation that the learning points from this conference would be disseminated to your target audience and the larger society, in addition to creating awareness and deepening the understanding of members of the CSGs, the conference should also elicit their participation in the MPP. Distinguished participants, the current Commission’s leadership is focused on transforming the pension sector.  Some of the recent significant accomplishments by the Commission include the issuance of the Guidelines on Accessing 25 percent (%) of RSA Balance towards payment of Equity Contribution for Residential Mortgage by RSA holders.

This innovative development provides equity finance for RSA holders, facilitates their ownership of residential homes during their working life, and ultimately improves their living standards. The Guideline effectively implements the provisions of Section 89(2) of the Pension Reform Act (PRA), 2014 which aligns with one of the Commission’s core value of responsiveness, based on the need to improve the standard of living of active employees and retirees under the CPS.In addition to the above stated, the Commission also concluded the increase of the Minimum Regulatory Capital (Shareholders’ Fund) requirements of PFAs from N1 billion to N5 billion.
The recapitalisation exercise, which spanned a 12-month period was concluded on 27 April 2022. As of the deadline, all PFAs had complied with the Commission’s directive to increase the Minimum Regulatory Capital (Shareholders’ Fund) from N1 billion to N5 billion. The recapitalisation exercise was to ramp up the capacity of the PFAs to manage the increasing number of registered contributors and pension fund assets, the value of which I am pleased to inform you stands at about N14.42 Trillion as at 30 September, 2022.
The exercise is expected to bring about increased effectiveness and efficiency as well as improved service delivery in the industry. Further to its regulatory and supervisory functions, the Commission has continued to issue new Guidelines, Frameworks, and Regulations while strengthening existing ones, to make for the smooth implementation of the CPS and the welfare of active employees and pensioners under the Scheme.
The Commission issued the Revised Regulation on the Administration of Retirement and Terminal Benefits to ensure that pensioners receive their benefits promptly.The key highlights of the Revised Regulation include clarifications and simplification of documentation processes, RSA consolidation before payments of retirement benefits, accrued pension benefits for private sector contributors, and additional lump sum payments.
 The Revised Regulation also contains several new provisions on Pension Enhancement, Voluntary Contributions, payment under the MPP, payment of benefits of missing persons, and payment of Nigeria Social Insurance Trust Fund (NSITF) benefits.  Furthermore, it introduced Administrative Sanctions on PFAs who disregard the provisions of the Regulation. The sanctions are to ensure that PFAs promptly process the payment of retirement benefits to retirees. Distinguished participants, the conference was carefully designed to reflect the stated theme.
The first paper to be presented is titled “The Micro Pension Plan: panacea for Old Age Poverty in the informal Sector”. This paper provides a synopsis of the MPP, and its objectives. The second presentation is titled” How Micro Pension Funds are Invested for the Benefit of the Contributors” and;The third paper is titled” The Administration of Retirement Benefits under the MPP”. I therefore, implore all participants to maximise the benefits of these presentations towards greater understanding of the Micro Pension Plan.
Finally, I wish to express the Commission’s immense gratitude to you all, for taking time off your busy schedules to participate in this conference.  I encourage you to make this conference as interactive as possible by seeking clarifications where necessary. I wish you all a successful participation at this conference.Thank you and God bless.

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