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to pension law, which precisely in Section 13 and Section 106 subsection 1 to 4 of the Pension Reform Act 2004 as repealed by PRA 2014, gave room transfers.

The Pension Reform Act 2004 as repealed by PRA 2014 stipulates that a contributor will be allowed to move his or her RSA account from one PFA to another in not more than once in a year.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

Gov. Ikpeazu wants reform of pension system

Gov. Okezie Ikpeazu of Abia has advocated holistic reforms in pension administration to reduce the plight of pensioners in the country. He told media practitioners in the South-East during a media tour on Sunday in Aba that pensioners were victims of vicious cycle.

The governor noted that pensioners in the state were on the increase rather than decreasing. According to him, nobody dies in the pension scheme in the state. This is rather unfortunate and untrue of the pension system.

As a way forward, the governor said that his administration had abrogated the sub-treasury payment system, adding that every pensioner now received monthly alert from the bank. On his relationship with the state workforce, he said that he enjoyed an excellent relationship with workers.

“My workers know I love them. I am satisfied by their proud swell and support to my administration,” the governor said. He said that Abia was now the first state in Africa to be placed on the e-card health system.

Ikpeazu explained that the state government took advantage of the telephone system to connect to a doctor at any time. The governor said that it was on a prepaid e-card by dialing the pin on the card. He said that the aim of the state government was to make life expectancy to be 60 years before the end of 2018.

On 2019, the governor said that it was still far, saying “I have so many things in my hand as governor of Abia, including my ambition of becoming a Professor of Chemistry. “My second term bid is in your hands, the good people of Abia and my friends,” he said.

The Commissioner for Information, Mr. Okeiyi Kalu, conducted the heads of media round the projects executed by the government, including the first asphalted road in Ugwunagbo Local Government Area.

FIRS to address double taxation in insurance sector

The Federal Inland Revenue Service has promised to address controversial tax issues in the insurance industry.

The Partner and Head, Tax Regulatory and Peoples Services, KPMG, Wole Obayomi said this during a lecture on Voluntary Asset Income Declaration Scheme, which was organised by the Chartered Insurance Institute of Nigeria in Lagos.

He also said that during a meeting he had with the FIRS Chairman, Mr. Babatunde Fowler, he told him that the FIRS would always give the insurers the necessary consideration on tax issues when submitting their reports.

Underwriters have been pursuing an amendment to the Companies Income Tax (Amendment) Act 2007 to relieve insurance companies of the heavy tax burden they grapple with. The President, CIIN, Mrs. Funmi Babington-Ashaye, expressed appreciation to the FIRS and the KPMG for their partnership in driving the growth of the insurance industry.

She said that VAID was introduced by the government for a number of reasons such as the unstable price of oil in the global market, which had serious negative implications on government revenue and its ability to meet its budgetary needs; many who owned assets from which they earned taxable income, but deliberately refused to disclose such additional sources of income for purposes of tax; and some persons who just refused to pay tax because they argued that they were not getting any direct benefits from the previous taxes they paid.

“What the government has done with VAIDS, therefore, is to provide a window for all tax defaulters or evaders to voluntarily declare their hidden or previously undeclared assets and income over which they have not paid taxes so that they can be appropriately taxed,” she said.

In taking this decision, Babington-Ashaye added that the government wanted to forgive their previous sins of not paying taxes, as well as waive the associated sanctions. “Let me stress the fact that the payment of tax is a legal requirement and, therefore, it is mandatory for all persons to pay taxes on their legitimate income,” she said.

According to her, although there may not be any direct relationship between the amount of taxes a citizen pays and the benefits received or enjoyed, payment of taxes is a civic obligation.

“It is the citizens’ contribution to the running of government and not an exchange process. With higher tax revenues, the government will be better placed to meet the needs of Nigeria’s growing population. If we pay tax, we can then hold the government accountable,”

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