By Francis Igata
Increasingly, there are fears that the present government of Sullivan Chime of Enugu State, may not enlist the state workers into the Contributory Pension Scheme, CPS, introduced in 2004 following the Pension Reform Act, PRA, 2004 (as amended in 2014).
Pension and You, gathered that the enabling Bill which will authorize the government to key into the CPS was passed by the Enugu State House of Assembly, ESHA, in November 2014 .
The Bill, which will provide the necessary legal backing for the civil servants in Enugu State to jettison the current Pay-As-You-Go scheme, has been laying fallow at the table of the governor since November last year.
If signed and it comes on stream in the state, it will ensure that every civil servants, save to cater for their old age and ensure that pensioners are not subjected to untold suffering due to inefficient and cumbersome process of pension payment, among others.
State Secretary, Nigeria Union of Pensioners, NUP, Mr. John Nebo, while speaking on the development, said, “The pension reform programme is governed by the key principles of sustainability, safety and security of benefits, transparency, accountability, equity, flexibility, inclusivity, uniformity and practicability. Enugu state is yet to join the contributory pension scheme. I understand that the Bill has just been passed. Without the Bill, they cannot start the contributory scheme.
I expect that it will commence sometime this year. At the moment, the government is still using the old scheme. The pensioners of Federal government are being owed in Enugu State because they stopped the Pay-As-You-Go scheme in 2007. As a union, we have made a case for our members to be paid because it is not their fault that the contributory scheme did not commence. Their pension should not be stopped as a result. Pension Transitional Arrangement Directorate, PTAD, is trying to pay them in arrears.
“The Pay-As-You-Go scheme is bedeviled with a lot of arrears. The pensioners die while waiting for the benefits to be paid. The gratuity also goes into arrears with the old scheme. The parastatals like Enugu State Broadcasting Service, ESBS, Water Corporation, Teachers are being owed about 27, 22, 77 months arrears of pension. But if the contributory pension scheme is in place, they should be able to pay immediately because the person has been contributed. The Pay-As-You-Go is not funded and that is one of the major disadvantages. The government has not operated the old scheme well. There supposed to be money saved for pensioners which will be deployed for their payments under Consolidated Revenue. Unfortunately, the civil servants in the state do not like the contributory pension scheme. That is why it has delayed up till this time. The workers see it that the amount they are to contribute is much. The civil servants say the seven and half percent deduction is much because their salary is nothing to write home about. They are the least paid nationwide.”
Reacting, the State Chairman, Nigeria Labour Congress, NLC, Chukwumaife Nze, noted that the civil servants were yearning for the implementation of the Bill.
According to him, “We have sensitizied the workers on the imperatives of the contributory scheme. Once the government implements the Bill, we will all heave a sigh of relief.”