By Victor Ahiuma-Young
ARE you retiring or nearing retirement under the Contributory Pension Scheme, CPS? If you are, and you do not have a National Identity Card Number, NIN, you will do yourself a deal of good by getting one. If you do not, be sure you cannot access your benefit from your retirement saving account, RSA.
This is a new rule, a leading Pension Fund Administrator, PFA; Trustfund Pension Limited, has informed.
Regional Manager, Lagos Region of Trustfund Pensions Limited, Mr. Obiora Ozoekwem, in a chat during a forum with employers in Lagos, did not only give insight into some of the challenges being experienced as the PFA deals with employers towards a seamless service delivery, he also spoke of the new regulation from the National Pension Commission, PenCom, that has made the National Identity Card Number, NIN, compulsory for existing and prospective enrollees or contributors to CPS.
To start with, the regional manager acknowledged that there “are lots of challenges we have been encountering in course of our operations in dealing with employers. It starts at the point of enrollment, the responsibility actually lies with the employer. When a new employee joins an organisation, the employer is supposed to enquire whether such employee has been registered with a pension fund administrator, PFA, or not. In a case where he has not, the employer is supposed to allow him or her make a choice of the one he or she wants to go with.
And a situation where he or she has registered, the employer should not be found to be forcing him to leave his PFA and joins the employer’s preference. So, we try to orientate them on this and make them understand that the choice of picking a PFA lies with the employee. Then, the responsibility of ensuring that everybody has a pin is with the employer.
“In a situation when he or she comes in and does not have a pin, the employer is mandated to, after six months of the employee being in service without a pin, to call for a temporary pin for such an employee where the employer will be remitting and making sure the employee’s contributions are going into. The employee has such a period of time to normalize the registration. Where he or she dose not, the employer can go ahead and complete the registration for him on a chosen PFA. But from day one that he or she comes in, the onus of choosing a PFA is left with the employee. However, it is the responsibility of the employer to ensure that the employee goes with one PFA.
Micro pension scheme
“It is a bit challenging. Every new system has it own challenges. We are doing our best to resolve those bottlenecks. The main issue now is, the rule mandates that every employee must have his or her National Identity Card Number, NIN, before registration. We all know that many Nigerians have not been able to achieve that. So, they come up for registration, they do not have their National Identity Card numbers, and we are unable to register them. For some that already have the NIN, if you give any information slightly different from what you have submitted to NIN at the point of registration, the registration process, the Enhanced Contributor Registration System, ECRS, will reject it. We are battling with ensuring that customers first of all, get registered with NIN, and secondly, ensuring that the information they have passed on to the NIN are the same information they are also passing to the PFA.
“If there are miss-spelt names of customer, customers affected cannot even get a pin, unless they give us the miss-spelt names to generate pins which would match the names they are using while they working. For existing customers, what they are expected to do is to submit their NINs to us, when they do that, we try to synchronize. When it does not match, the employee is supposed to go back to NIN to correct whatever information he or she feels was misrepresented or thing like that. I think NIN charges fees for certain corrections like date of birth, names and so on. So, those corrections are done not from PFAs, but NINs.
Registration codes for the micro pension customers are out and they have been categorized into what they do. You have tailors, carpenters, the auto-mechanics hair dressers and so on. The registration codes come in those formats, that is, in accordance with what they do. For those of them that have their NINs, we have gone ahead to register them. For those who do not have, we are trying to make special arrangement so that official of NINS could go with us, where there are large numbers; they would register them so that we can issue them pins.
“If you are an existing customer, your contribution into RSA can continue without the NIN. At the point of retirement, for accessing your fund, is that you must provide your NINs. If you retire today, your application for payment of your retirement benefits cannot be processed unless you provide your NINs. So, it is important to have your NIN.