By ROSEMARY ONUOHA
Biometric data enrollment for contributors to the new pension scheme will soon commence in the pension sector as Pension Fund Operators, PenOp, is putting modalities in place to kick-start the initiative.
Chairman of PenOp, Mr. Dave Uduanu, who disclosed this in Lagos said that the move is to capture the biometric data of all the contributors to the new pension scheme.
Uduanu said “Where we are now is that we are going to work on a collaborative basis to capture the biometric data of everybody who has a pension account. Now if your biometric data is not captured before because it was done manually, we are going to do an electric capture of those biometric data. I expect that to commence as soon as possible and concluded very quickly.”
Uduanu said that once the biometric enrollment is complete, the transfer window will be opened subsequently by the National Pension Commission, PenCom.
A transfer window is a process that allows a contributor to the new pension scheme to change from one Pension Fund Administrator, PFA, to another.
Uduanu said “The embezzlement in the previous pension scheme is because there was no biometric data capture. So they don’t know who they are paying and there are ghost pensioners. As such, we don’t want to have ghost pensioners in this new system and that is why PenCom is insisting on all of this.”
The PenOp Chairman also said that so many pensioners that transferred from the old scheme into the new scheme are yet to do bond registration as required by the Pension Reform Act 2004.
He said “If you don’t do bond registration, you are not going to receive your entitlements. When the new scheme started, there was a cut off period. Technically speaking, they were doing the defined benefits scheme, so there was an actuarial evaluation of how much government owned them at that point. But government have said, ‘when you are about to retire come and do a bond registration’ and it means retirement bond, which is that government is owning you this money.”
According to Uduanu, to do a bond registration, contributors should go through their PFAs and process their documents, then they are to make sure that all their contributions are clear. After that Pencom will approve the money that the government is owing them which is the accrued retirement right.
“The accrued retirement right will now be paid into your account and that is what we call consolidation. When it is paid into your account, we now know that all the money government owns you both for current and past job is now complete and we can pay. Without that we cannot pay.”
While complaining that some contributors don’t go for bond registration Uduanu said, “If you don’t go for bond registration, there is no way that PFAs will pay you. If you don’t do bond registration, you are to be blamed, you can’t blame PenCom.”
The bond registration, according to Uduanu, is necessary because there must be an order to the new pension system, stating “If there is no order, the monies will be lost like the old system. But some Nigerians don’t want to respect that order. If you tell somebody to go and do bond registration, he won’t do bond registration, you tell somebody, go to your employer and get a confirmation letter that all your benefits have been paid , they will say ‘no just pay me’.”
“It is a retirement savings account; it is not a bank account. You can go to your bank and collect money any time you want but this money is for retirement. So contributors must go to their PFAs and make sure that all the documentation has been collected. Some people say that ‘why do we have this documentation? If you don’t have it, the monies will be paid to the wrong people and we will be back to square one” Uduanu said.