The National Pension Commission (PenCom) has disclosed its resolve to generate additional N3 trillion assets and 20 million contributors from the micro pension scheme, said the Acting Director General of PenCom, Mrs. Aisha Dahir–Umar. She also disclosed that the commission is currently consulting with relevant stakeholders on how to drive and harness opportunities embedded in the newly launched micro pension scheme.
According to her, the targeted N3 trillion would be in addition to the existing N8.7 trillion assets already accumulated in the contributory pension scheme.
Dahir-Umar said PenCom and the pension fund operators have developed information technology to support the micro pension distribution plan.
She also said the commission, has engaged the informal sector groups, such as the Nigerian Union of Textile, Garment and Tailoring Workers of Nigeria, a body consisting of self-employed tailors and garment workers; partner trade associations, non-government organisations and religious bodies, in a bid to persuade them to subscribe to the scheme.
She spoke on other benefits built in by the commission to make the scheme attractive to the target population, saying its implementation would improve the standard of living of the informal sector participants at retirement and reduce dependence on extended family for support.
“The implementation of the micro-pension plan will improve the standard of living of the informal sector participants at retirement and reduce dependence on extended family for support at retirement,” she explained.
The plan, when operational, would capture the self-employed people, especially, those with irregular income, usually in the informal sector and, “are largely financially uninformed with limited or no access to financial services, especially, pension plan,” she said.
Section 2(3) of the Pension Reform Act, 2014 legal framework extends the coverage of the CPS to self-employed persons through the micro-pension scheme.
Dahir-Umar said that self-employed people and workers in the informal sector could reap enormous benefits by participating in the plan.
She explained that the initiative, in addition to providing income for people at old age and in developing a savings, would afford them the opportunity to connect to other programmes of the government while helping to finance infrastructure across the country.
“Subscribers could, as well, use the balance in their Retirement Savings Accounts as equity contribution for residential mortgages and support their businesses,” she added.
According to her, additional benefits to self-employed persons and informal sector workers include the cover being provided under the Pension Protection Fund.
She explained that under the arrangement, the government would bridge shortfalls or financial losses from the investment of their accumulated retirement savings and guarantee them minimum pension in retirement, irrespective of how much they were able to save before retiring.
She also said the plan would be funded by an annual subvention of one per cent of the monthly wage of federal government employees, the annual levy on PenCom and pension operators as well as pension fund investment income.
“Micro-pension plan is designed to fit the peculiarities of these informal sector groups. The product is flexible with respect to contribution amount and the channel of remittance of contributions to the respective pension accounts.
“Access to accumulated contributions is also flexible, seamless and facilitated by technology through varied payments system platform,” she further explained.
The Chairman, Pension Operators Association(PenOp), Mrs. Ronke Adedeji, who is also the Managing Director Leadway Pensure stated that, currently contributors in the micro pension scheme are registering in trickles.
According to her, what would drive the scheme is massive awareness and sensitisation for those in informal businesses.
The micro pension scheme launch by the commission last month forms one of the two additional funds added to the pension fund investment structure, next to the micro pension is the non-interest funds which now brings the total investment portfolios under the contributory pension scheme to six.
The Executive Director, Finance Pal Pension, Mr. Godwin Onoro, said the micro pension holds the future of not only the pension sector, but the entire economy.
He said his company was strategising to reap the gains of the scheme and urged other operators to do same.
The micro pension is a pension scheme for the self- employed and persons operating in the informal sector.
The Contributory Pension Scheme established under Section 3(1) of the Pension Reform Act, 2014 provides for the inclusion of the informal sector into the scheme.