BY ROSEMARY ONUOHA
The National Pension Commission, PenCom, has asked the Attorney General of the Federation for a fiat to institute criminal proceedings against employers who default in remitting pension contributions of their employees to their Retirement Savings Account, RSA.
PenCom in a circular, said that the move will enable it institute criminal proceedings against employers for persistent refusal to remit pension contributions as at when due.
The Commission therefore called for the amendment of Section 11(7) of the Pension Reform Act, PRA 2004, stressing that the present provision is clogged with limitations.
It said, “Power to institute criminal proceedings against employers for persistent refusal to remit pension contributions: Section 11(7) should be amended to empower the Commission to institute criminal proceedings, with fiat of Attorney General of the Federation, against employers who persistently fail to deduct and/or remit pension contributions within the stipulated time.
“Review of the penalties and sanctions: The sanctions currently provided under Section 85 are no longer sufficient deterrents against infractions of the PRA 2004. Consequently, Section 85 should be amended to provide for stiffer penalties that will serve as deterrents.”
PenCom said 172 debt recovery agents have been engaged to collect unpaid contributions from employers, adding that the agents have commenced work and that they consist of lawyers and accountants.
Meanwhile, the Commission said that six insurance companies and 40 insurance broking firms were among the 74 companies that got the PenCom certificate of compliance last year.
“Only 74 companies which include, Creed Insurance Brokers Limited, Leadway Assurance Plc, Lasaco Life Company and others were able to meet the requirement for issue of certificate of compliance as at January 4, this year,” PenCom said.
It will be recalled that the PRA 2004, made it compulsory for companies seeking government businesses to present certificate of compliance which indicates that they are meeting the regulation on staff pension contributions.
The PRA 2004 also mandates all employers with minimum of five staff to subscribe to the new pension scheme. To ensure enforcement of the law, the Commission recently issued an order that employers who fail to remit their pension contributions would pay two per cent charge two weeks after deductions have been made by them.
PenCom noted that employers are to remit employees contributions not later than seven working days from the day salary is paid. It noted that if default persists after three months, one per cent of the outstanding would be paid to the Commission.
The Commission said it would take legal actions on defaulters if violation persists, adding that employers who refused to give access to information about their staff would pay a fine not more that N200,000 and that every false or misleading information would attract N100,000 fine, each day the offence continues.