Envisaged pension transfer window suspended

Matthew Otoijagha

There are indications that the National Pension Commission (PenCom) has technically suspended the envisaged Pension transfer window conceived to help dissatisfied contributors opt for Pension Fund Administrators (PFAs) with improved services

Insider sources in the commission, who spoke with journalists under the condition of anonymity revealed that the Pension Application System (PASS) that is meant to digitalise the pension industry and allow the transfer window to be opened has been put aside by the new administration of PenCom.

One of the sources said the transfer window was billed to commence on June 1, 2018, but all the processes put in place to ensure that the window is opened has been put away. The source said the new management are considering starting the process all over again rather than continue with the processes that were on ground.

The suspension, is considered as draw back to the implementation to pension law, which precisely in Section 13 and Section 106 subsection 1 to 4 of the Pension Reform Act 2004 as repealed by PRA 2014, gave room transfers.

The Pension Reform Act 2004 as repealed by PRA 2014 stipulates that a contributor will be allowed to move his or her RSA account from one PFA to another in not more than once in a year.

But the law is yet to be implemented by PenCom 14 years after the enactment of the PRA 2004.

Section 13 states that subject to guideline issued by the Commission, a holder of a RSA maintained under the Act may not more than once in a year transfer his account from one PFA to another.

Section 106 stipulates that an employee or beneficiary of a Retirement Savings Account (RSA) holder who is dissatisfied with a decision of the PFA or employer in respect of pension matters under this Bill, may request, in writing, that such decisions be reviewed by PenCom with a view to ensuring that such decision is made in accordance with the provisions of this Bill or any regulations made.

It further stated that a copy of any request under subsection (1) shall be served on the relevant PFA or employee. The Commission shall in reviewing a request of a PFA or employer conduct its proceedings in such a manner as to avoid delay.

Where either party is dissatisfied with the decision of the Commission on any matter referred to it, such party may refer the matter to arbitration in accordance with the Arbitration and Conciliation Act or to the National Industrial Court.

Meanwhile, contributors and retirees have cried out to the Federal Government to intervene and relieve them of what they describe being in bondage to PFAs. A contributor, who simply said his name is, Mr. Amadi lamented that his PFA, name withheld has continued to serve him poorly.

He said he want to change, but he is trapped with the PFA as they told him that he neither collect his contributions nor change to another PFA. Similarly, a retiree, Mrs. Oladipo said her PFA refuse to send her statement account with them, failed to transfer her on time to her chosen insurer for the annuity plan she opted for after every retirement.

She believes that if retirees and contributors are allowed to change their PFA to another, the PFAs will improve on their services, bearing in mind that they can be dump at any time.

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