By Rosemary Iwunze

As the economic headwinds persists and workers continue to lose their jobs, a total of N17.4 billion was withdrawn by disengaged workers from their pension savings at the end of 2020.

According to the 2020 annual report released by the National Pension Commission, PenCom, yesterday, the figure however represents a decline of 8.7 per cent from N19.06 billion withdrawn by disengaged workers in 2019.

It will be recalled that the Pension Reform Act 2014 permits temporary access for withdrawal of 25 per cent of Retirement Savings Account, RSA, balances to employees who were disengaged, resigned or retired from employment before the age of 50 years and had not secured another employment after four months.

But further details reveal that more number of people went for the withdrawals as a total of 31,716 RSA holders executed withdrawals in 2020 as against 37,674 in 2019.

PenCom noted that staff of the private sector lost their jobs more than those in the public sector, even as from inception to December 31, 2020, a total of 372,125 RSA holders in this category had collected a cumulative sum of N139.87 billion.

Meanwhile PenCom noted that during the year under review, the sum of N1.42 billion was recovered from 79 defaulting employers.

According to the PenCom report, “This brought the total recoveries made from inception of the exercise in 2012 to 31 December 2020, to N18.27 billion.

“This figure represents principal contributions of N9.43 billion and penalties of N8.84 billion.

“The amounts recovered had since been credited to the respective RSAs of the employees.

“In the same vein, the Commission continued to take legal actions to recover pension contributions from 26 defaulting employers that failed to remit outstanding pension contributions and penalty as established by the RAs.’’

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