By Rosemary Onuoha
DUE to the incessant loss of jobs occasioned by the economic downturn, a total of 12,464 disengaged workers were paid N4 billion from their pension contribution in the third quarter of 2016 by their different Pension Fund Administrators (PFAs). The payments were made in accordance with the Pension Reform Act, 2014 which allows workers below 50 years under the Contributory Pension Scheme, CPS, to access 25 per cent of their pension contribution if they are not able to get another job after four months.
According to the 2016 third quarter report of the National Pension Commission (PenCom), the private sector accounted for 95.43 per cent of the figure which represents 173,578 of the disengaged workers, while the public sector accounted for 4.57 per cent, totaling 8,305 disengaged workers. The pension regulator noted that N56.9 billion has been paid to 181,883 disengaged workers since the inception of the CPS. It said N1.84 billion was also paid as death benefits to beneficiaries of 532 deceased employees within the quarter under review.
Commenting on this development, Managing Director/Chief Executive, Sigma Pensions Limited, Mr. Dave Uduanu said that requests by disengaged workers to access 25 per cent of their pension contribution is constantly on the increase to enable them keep body and soul together until they secure another job.
Uduanu said that inadequate contribution of funding remains a major challenge in the pension industry amid the present global fiscal constraint, noting, “We can understand. Its current reality of ours, the economy is on the downturn but we’re looking forward positively but many employers are not able to pay employees contribution.
“For those that have and are still in business many of them have shed weight, which means if they previously had 100 employees, they now manage with thirty or forty. So it’s not the fault of those employers, it’s an economic situation, not even in Nigeria alone. And looking at what government has put in place over the years since the new administration came in, we feel positive that things will turn around very soon.”