June 20, 2024

Economic hardship: Workers swoop on their pension contributions

Pension fund

By Rosemary Iwunze

In apparent response to the biting hardship in the economy, the number of workers that made withdrawals from their voluntary contributions under their pension savings increased by 87.6 per cent in the first quarter of 2024, Q1’24.

Specifically, the number of workers that withdrew from their voluntary contributions went up to 1,302 in Q1’24, from 694 recorded in the preceding quarter, Q4’23.

Also, the value of funds withdrawn from the voluntary contributions increased by 160 per cent to N3.9 billion from N1.5 billion withdrawn in the previous quarter.

A breakdown of the first quarter report released by the National Pension Commission, PenCom, show that 1,259 workers who made the withdrawals were from the private sector, while 43 were from the public sector.

Voluntary Contributions are extra funds that a worker can opt to add to his/her mandatory pension contributions, or simply set aside as retirement savings.

The Pension Reform Act (PRA) 2014 allows employees to make voluntary contributions into their Retirement Savings Accounts, RSAs, in addition to their mandatory pension contributions, with the sole aim of enhancing their retirement benefits.

The report stated: “Approvals were granted to 1,302, RSA holders to access N3.9 billion of their voluntary contributions during the quarter under review while 24 were rejected due to incorrect computations. 1,259 RSA holders whose benefits were approved were from the private sector, while 43 were from the public sector.”

Meanwhile, on RSA holders request to access their pension savings for mortgage, the report stated: “A total of 1,390 RSA holders requested to access up to 25% of their RSA balances towards payment of equity contributions for residential mortgage during the quarter under review. Approvals were granted to 1,234 requests amounting to N10.5 billion, while 156 were rejected due to incorrect documentations. Out of the 1,234 applicants whose benefits were approved, 379 were from the private sector, while the remaining 855 were from the public sector.”

Further analysis of the report show that a total of 89,061 new RSAs were registered in different sectors in the quarter ended 31 March 2024.

Analysis of the RSA registrations across PFAs revealed that Stanbic IBTC Pension Managers had the largest market share of 23.9% of new registrations with 21,288 contributors registered, followed by Access Pensions Limited, which had 22.5% with 20,042 new contributors registered. ARM Pension Managers Ltd, Leadway Pensure PFA and Premium Pension followed with 8.4%, 7.1%, 7.0% of the new registrations during the quarter respectively. Consequently, the top five PFAs collectively held 68.8% while the bottom five PFAs recorded an aggregate of 4.3% of the 89,061 new RSAs registered in Q1’24.