The National Pension Commission (PenCom) has recovered about N24.53 billion as pension contributions owed workers by defaulting employers. The Director-General of PenCom, Mrs Aisha Dahir-Umar, made the disclosure on Thursday in Lagos at the 2023 Labour Writers Association of Nigeria (LAWAN) Workshop.
She was represented by the Head of Corporate Communications of PenCom, Mr Abdulqadir Dahiru. The workshop had the theme: “Securing the Future: The Benefits of the Contributory Pension Scheme to Nigerian Workers”.
Dahir-Umar said that the amount was recovered from June 2012 to March 31, 2023. According to her, of the recovered sum, N12.44 billion is actual pension contribution while N12.09 billion is penalty.
She said that during the first quarter of 2023, N384.28 million (comprising N193.06 million contributions and N191.22 million penalties) was recovered from 34 defaulting employers.
According to her, PenCom is committed to protecting workers’ interests and ensuring that employers pay pension contributions as and when due. Dahiru-Umar added that PenCom was determined to ensure that Nigerian workers would receive their retirement benefits in time.
She said that the commission’s meticulous regulation and supervision of the pension industry had ensured that pension assets and the Contributory Pension Scheme (CPS) membership continued to grow.
According to her, the value of pension assets stood at N15.58 trillion as at March 31, while CPS membership was 9.95 million.
She noted that in 2022, PenCom launched a policy allowing Retirement Savings Account (RSA) holders to utilise a portion of their retirement savings as equity for mortgages.
She said that the policy marked a significant milestone in the commission’s ongoing efforts to provide greater flexibility and access to pension funds for the benefit of RSA holders.
“We recognise that many individuals face challenges in securing adequate housing upon retirement, and we aim to address this issue by unlocking the value of their pension savings to facilitate homeownership.
“Under this new policy, RSA holders who have contributed to their accounts for at least five years and met specific eligibility criteria can utilise up to 25 per cent of their pension savings as equity contribution towards acquiring residential properties.
“This policy aligns with our commitment to ensuring that pension funds catalyse economic development and social well-being,” she said.
Dahiru-Umar added that RSA holders could access 25 per cent of their RSA balance to cushion the effect of job loss if they could not secure another employment after four months of job loss.
She said that the partial withdrawal from RSA was to offer immediate support during a difficult period.
According to her, the remaining balance in the RSA will continue to grow and accumulate until the RSA holder attains retirement age.
The director-general urged LAWAN members to approach the workshop with an open mind and commitment to excellence in journalism.
She expressed optimism that enhancing journalists’ understanding of pensions would equip them better to educate members of the public, dispel misconceptions and foster financial planning culture and security among Nigerian workers.
“We firmly believe that a well-informed and engaged media plays a vital role in driving information flow and positive change in our society.
“As writers and journalists, you can shape public opinion and influence policy discussions.
“Therefore, we must work together to ensure accurate and comprehensive reporting on pension-related matters, which are of great significance to the well-being and future of Nigerian workers,” she said.