Director General of Lagos State Pension Commission, LASPEC, Mrs. Folashade Onanuga in this interview expresses the commitment of LASPEC to retirees.
By Rosemary Onuoha
WHAT are the plans of LASPEC for retirees in 2018?
We have been looking at the issue of identification cards that will not just be means of identification for retirees but they will be able to use it for some other things, such as access to medical care and transportation on Lagos buses. We are fine-tuning it.
On the issue of affordable housing for retirees, we are looking at sensitizing the workers. The Pension Reform Act, PRA 2014, allows part of the Retirement Savings Account, RSA, contributions to be used as equity contribution for mortgages for first time home owners. Already we have started work in Lagos state.
The foundation is being laid. People, who still have more than 10 years in service can access that option, then apply for the rent-to-own homes in Lagos state. There are different categories of houses and they are reduced in cost, we have some for instance in Epe. So the equity contribution from the RSA will form the base and from salaries on a monthly basis.
Within the period, they will be making contributions to repay the loans and by the time they retire, they know that they are not going to be bothered about rent. So we are laying that foundation in 2018. We are also laying the foundation of the pensioners digest which is like a magazine so to say, but an e-form of magazine while hard copies will also be available, so that we can keep retirees engaged. Why did we think about this? Most retirees just sit back, even if they have small businesses, they still sit back and relax.
So while relaxing, let them be conversant with what is going on in Lagos state where they served and retired from. Also be conversant with latest news concerning the state, with things that are happening to retirees in Lagos and other states and also have tips on things that will give them knowledge and make their lives worthwhile entirely. It is just a means of adding value to their lives; increase their knowledge even while still in retirement.
Are there plans to increase pension payment in line with directive from PenCom?
Of course we are committed to paying pensioners entitlements. It is a commitment of Lagos state. With the review of the law, increase in pension payment is in the pipeline it will soon be passed into law. When we start something, we will pull it through because we don’t want to be like those that started the CPS and backed off. We weigh the odds, look at everything in totality, do a strategic foresight of what to expect in the not too distant future and once we are able to settle it, then we move forward.
Have you aligned local government workers into the pension scheme?
They have been aligned though there are different kinds of parastatals. There are self funding ones which are the commercial ones and there are subvented ones. For the subvented parastatals, government bears their pension obligations but for the self funding ones who are commercial entities, they must as a matter of necessity ensure that they meet up with their pensioners’ obligations. So the Commission has engaged majority of these agencies and we have gotten the commitment from them.
Some of them have started pulling their weight but we know they still have backlogs. We are still monitoring them to ensure that they do the needful. For majority of them, when Governor Ambode came on board he bailed them out for their accrued pension rights but going forward, he has told them not to build up obligation.