Federal, state govts blamed for PRA 2014 non-compliance

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Matthew Otoijagha

Governments at the Federal, state and local level have remained a problem to the successful administration of the Contributory Pension Scheme (CPS), a pension expert, Ivor Takor, has said.

Takor, a lawyer and Executive Director, Centre for Pension Right Advocacy, said several acts of noncompliance with the provisions of the Pension Reform Act 2014 call for the Civil Society, which includes the labour movement, represented by the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), the Trade Union Congress of Nigeria (TUC) and the Industrial Unions to take action against the government.

He noted that while Lagos, Kaduna, Edo and a few other states must be singled out for commendation for implementing the Contributory Pension Scheme (CPS), many other states are yet to comply with the law.

He stressed that Lagos stood out as the face of the CPS even better than the Federal Government, adding that the CPS is running smoothly in the private sector as workers who retire from the sector are paid as and when they retire.

Takor said: “The challenge of the scheme is in the public sector; federal and states, where workers for some years now are not being paid as and when they retired. The crisis facing Federal Government retirees emanated from the fact that the Federal Government has not been funding the Retirement Benefits Bond Redemption Fund Account in the Central Bank of Nigeria as it ought to.

‘‘The bulk of retirement benefits of employees, who were in employment before the reform in 2004, is in the accrued rights. For example, benefits from date of their first employment, up to June 2004, the date of the commencement of the Contributory Pension Scheme.

“The second issue militating against employees in the federal public service is that of delays in the remittance of contributions into the Retirement Savings Accounts (RSAs) of employees and implementing the new rates of contribution of 12 per cent and 8 per cent for the employer and employee respectively, which came into effect from June 2014. These are acts of noncompliance with the provisions of the Pension Reform Act 2014.

“As at the last count, only about 10 state governments have either enacted pension laws or are at various stages of enacting pension laws for their employees. More disturbing is the fact that even those that have enacted their own pension laws, thereby keying into the CPS, operate the schemes in default of their own laws. Is anyone, therefore, surprise that most states government are owning their workers’ pensions for upward of 2 to 3 years, while those that pay, pay what they like not based on any law?

“Lagos, Kaduna, Edo and a few other states must be singled out for commendation for keying into and implementation of the Contributory Pension Scheme. Without any fear of contradiction, Lagos State stands out as the face of the Contributory Pension Scheme even above the Federal government.”

“I call on the Civil Society, which include the labour movement, represented by the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), the Trade Union Congress of Nigeria (TUC) and the Industrial Unions, to have a major role to play as they remain the voice of the voiceless of this nation.

‘‘The movement therefore, has to organize and mobilize the full potentials of its vast membership to stand united against the deliberate pauperization of workers and their families by the predatory political ruling class and the vested interest of unregulated capital by ensuring that the pension rights of workers in the public and private sectors are protected.’’

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