On the Introduction of the New Pension Scheme

This new pension scheme is contributory, fully funded, privately managed, third party custody of the funds and assets and based on individual accounts. It ensures that everyone who has worked receives his/her retirement benefits as and when due.
Most of the old pension schemes were not fully funded. Therefore, upon retirement, there were no ready funds to pay the pensioners. The new pension scheme is fully funded. Money is contributed into individual employee’s Retirement Savings Account (RSA) and when he/she retires, there will be money in his/her RSA to pay his pension.
The main objective of the pension reform is to ensure that every person that worked in either the public or private sector in Nigeria receives his/her retirement benefits as and when due.
This new pension scheme is contributory, fully funded, privately managed, third party custody of the funds and assets and based on individual accounts. It ensures that everyone who has worked receives his/her retirement benefits as and when due.
The existing pensioners, employees who have 3 years or less to retire and the categories of persons covered by the provisions of section 291 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 are exempted from the new pension scheme.
The new pension scheme is mandatory for all categories of employers and employees covered under the Pension Reform act.
Any employee with more than 3 years to retire comes under the new pension scheme.  
There is no merger of private sector pension with that of the public sector pension since the sources of funding are not the same. However, both are now being regulated under the same rules and regulations.  
 Private sector pension schemes will be allowed to continue provided if there is evidence to show that the pension scheme is fully funded at all times, any shortfall made up within 90 days, pension funds assets are segregated from the assets of the employer/company, the pension funds assets are held by a licensed Custodian and the scheme is specifically approved by the National Pension Commission.
An employee shall make monthly contributions of a minimum of 7.5% of the total of his/her monthly emoluments (i.e., monthly basic salary, transport allowance and housing allowance) into his/her RSA. 
The employer shall contribute a minimum of 7.5% of the employee’s monthly emoluments towards the retirement benefits of the employee. < /p>
An employer can make all the contributions on behalf of the employee without making any deduction from the employee’s salary except that such contribution by the employer shall not be less than 15% of the monthly emoluments of the employee.       
Your contributions are just savings out of your emoluments towards your old age and the employer’s contribution will only increase such savings.
Pension contributions are paid directly to the PFC to be held on the order of the PFA.   
A fully funded pension scheme exists where pension funds and assets match pension liabilities at any given time.
Every employee or contributor under the new pension scheme is expected to open RSA in his/her name with a PFA of his/her choice into which all his/her contributions and returns on investment are paid.
The RSA is similar to a bank account except that no contributor can withdraw money from RSA before his/her retirement. The PFA is required to invest the money and issue statements of account at least once every quarter to the contributor.       
Movement from one employment to another does not affect pension under the new scheme. The reform has removed the bottleneck associated with transfer of service from one organisation or sector to another, especially with regard to qualification for pension and the sharing formula for payment of pension as between employers.       


On transitional arrangements from old pension scheme into the new pension scheme

 

Any company operating a defined scheme that is desirous of continuing the scheme must, in addition to satisfying other conditions specified in the Act, open RSAs so that the pension funds can be held by a custodian. Computation of the accrued pension rights to be credited to the RSAs shall be done by actuarial valuation.
The contributions into NSITF made by those exempted from the new scheme shall be computed and credited into their respective RSAs opened by the NSITF pending the retirement of such contributions.
Retirement benefits shall be paid to existing pensioners under the rules upon which contributions were made, under the supervision of the National Pension Commission.
NSITF will continue to provide social services other than pension to the country.
NSITF will only handle pension matters of existing pensioners and those exempted by the Act who have contributed to the NSITF under the supervision of the National Pension Commission.
A contributor or beneficiary under NSITF Act can only move his contributions under NSITF to another PFA after a period of five years from the date of commencement of the Pension Reform Act 2004.
The pension funds contributed to the NSITF before the commencement of the new pension scheme including the income shall remain with the NSITF for a minimum period of five years from the commencement of the Pension Reform act 2004. NSITF shall establish a company to be licensed by the National Pension Commission as a PFA which will manage the pension funds in accordance with the provisions of the Pension Reform Act 2004.
The RSA remains with the PFA of your choice for as long as you want. You simply notify your new employer of the details of the PFA that manages your account and thereafter your contributions will be sent to the custodian of the PFA.
An actuarial valuation of his/her accrued retirement benefits will be made and the amount plus his contributions to date will consist of his/her retirement benefits in his/her RS which can only be accessed at the age of 50 years. Withdrawals from the RSA will depend of the professional advice of the PFA having regard to the provisions of the Pension Reform Act 2004 which provides for lump sum withdrawal, programmed withdrawals or purchase of annuity.
In the public service, Pension Departments have been created to carry out the functions of the relevant pension boards or offices in the public service of the Federation and Federal Capital Territory with a view to making regular and prompt payment of pension to existing pensioners.
Pension Boards in the private sector existing before the coming into force of the Pension reform Act2004 will continue to administer the pensions of the existing pensioners and the National Pension Commission will supervise such boards.
In the case of funded pension schemes in the public service of the Federation and the private sector, employers shall undertake actuarial valuation of the employee’s accrued benefits and credit the Retirement Savings Accounts (RSAs) of its employees with such funds and in the event of any deficiency, the shortfall shall become a debt as shall be treated with the same priorities as salaries owed. The employer shall also issue a written acknowledgement of the debt and take steps to meet the shortfall.
The Federal Government has established a Retirement Benefit Redemption Fund Account in the Central Bank of Nigeria. The Federal Government is already making a monthly payment into the fund of an amount equal to 5% of the total monthly wage bill payable to all employees of the Federal Government and the Federal Capital Territory.
Employee’s right to accrued retirement benefits for the previous years he/she has been in employment is guaranteed by the Pension Reform Act 2004. In the case of the public service of the Federation and the Federal Capital Territory, where pension scheme was unfunded, the right would be acknowledged through the issuance of a “Federal Government Retirement Bond” to such employees. The bond will be redeemable upon retirement of the employee.

On the management of the new pension scheme

 In order to ensure the safety of pension funds and to avoid mixing pension business and other businesses, it is desirable that the operators deal with pension funds only. This will enhance effective regulation and supervision.       
 The PFA will charge fees for the services being rendered on the RSA subject to such guidelines as may be issued by the National Pension Commission from time to time.   
 An employee or contributor has the freedom to move his account, once a year, from one PFA to another without giving any reason(s).
 An applicant PFA must have a minimum paid up share capital of N150,000,000 (one hundred and fifty million naira) while an applicant PFC must have a minimum paid up capital of N2,000,000,000 (two billion naira) and shall be a licensed financial institution with a minimum net worth of N5,000,000,000 (five billion naira) unimpaired by losses and has total assets of N125,000,000,000 (one hundred and twenty-five billion naira) or is wholly owned by a licensed financial institution with similar financial resources.       
 The PFA manages and invests the pension funds while the PFC keeps the pension funds assets in safe custody and carries out transactions on behalf of the PFA.       
 A Pension Fund Custodian (PFC) is a company licensed by the National Pension Commission to keep pension money and assets in the RSA on trust for the employee on behalf of the PFA.   
 In accordance with the provisions of the Pension Reform Act 2004, only an employer with a pension scheme existing before the commencement of the Act can apply to be licensed as a Closed PFA.
A subsidiary of any company may apply for a licence to operate as a Closed PFA provided it satisfies the requirements of the Pension Reform Act 2004.       
 Every employee may decide to join the contributory pension scheme or move his/her RSA from a Closed PFA to a PFA of his choice subject to such rules and regulations as may be issued by the National Pension Commission.       
 Any employer with existing scheme of less than N500,000,000 (five hundred million naira) can still maintain the scheme but the scheme will have to be administered by a PFA separate from the organisation.   
 Any employer having existing pension fund assets worth N500,000,000 (five hundred million naira) or more who also meets the requirements of the Pension Reform Act 2004 may apply to the National Pension Commission for a Closed PFA licence to enable it manage pension funds of its employees directly or through its subsidiary.
Any employer managing its existing pension scheme before the enactment of the Pension reform Act 2004 may apply to the National Pension Commission to be licensed as a Closed Pension Fund Administrator to continue to manage such pension scheme. A Closed PFA cannot open or manage RSA for employees other than its employees or employees of its parent company if it is a subsidiary.
 The Pension Fund Administrator cannot collect or spend the pension money in the RSA   
The National Pension Commission will publish a list of all licensed PFAs and make it available to the public.    
 A Pension Fund Administrator (PFA) is a company licensed by the National Pension Commission to manage and invest the pension funds in the employee’s Retirement Savings Account (RSA).   
 The National Pension Commission issue licences to PFAs and Custodians, regulates their activities and generally formulates, directs and oversees the overall policy guidelines on pension matters in Nigeria.
 The National Pension Commission is empowered by the Pension Reform Act 2004 to supervise and regulate new pension scheme.
The total contributions will be paid out by the employer directly to a Pension Fund Custodian (PFC) and will be managed and invested by the Pension Fund Administrator (PFA) of the employee’s choice.        

On issues of good governance and integrity of the new pension scheme

 Yes. The new pension scheme entrenches the principles of transparency and accountability as reflected in the reporting requirement of the PFAs and PFCs to both the contributor and the National Pension Commission. An employee has the right to choose who manages his RSA and the right to receive statements of his account on quarterly basis with details of contributions made and returns on investment.   
 There is adequate representation of relevant stakeholders in the Board of the National Pension Commission, which comprises of representatives of the Government, Nigeria Labour Congress, the Nigerian Union of Pensioners and the Nigerian Employers’ Consultative Association.
 The minimum pension guarantee shall be determined from time to time by the National Pension Commission.   
 Under the Pension Reform Act 2004, a person can voluntarily retire or be compulsorily retired before the age of 50 years on the ground of medical advice, permanent disability or due to particular terms and conditions of employment. If any person retires under any of the foregoing circumstances, he is entitled to withdraw from his RSA even though he was under the age of 50 at such retirement; provided that, in the case of retirement due to particular terms and conditions of employment, the contributor does not secure another employment after six months from the last employment.       
 It is the duty of the PFAs to administer the contributions and invest in such away that will ensure safe and reasonable returns on investment. The reserve fund created by the PFAs under the Act would compensate for any erosion of the value of the contributions.   
 The Government cannot tamper with the pension funds in your RSA, because the Government cannot have access to the account. Besides, the Government is primarily concerned with ensuring the safety of the money in your RSA through the enforcement of strict rules and regulations.
 The Federal Government has established the National Pension Commission and charged it with the responsibility of regulating and supervising new pension scheme.
 The Pension Reform Act 2004 allows any employee to complain about any PFA to the National Pension Commission.
 The pension funds and assets in the Retirement savings account (RSA) are kept by the PFC and as such the liquidation of the PFA will not affect the funds and assets. Besides, every PFA is expected under the Pension Reform Act 2004 to maintain a statutory reserve fund as contingency fund to meet claims for which it may be liable as may be determined by National Pension Commission.   
 The functions of the Pension Fund Administrator (PFA) and Custodians are clearly spelt out in the Pension Reform Act 2004. The Act provides adequate safeguards against the misuse of the pension funds and assets by any operator.   
 All those managing or keeping custody of pension funds and assets will be licensed and continually regulated and supervised by the National Pension Commission.

On payment of retirement benefits under the new pension scheme

 When an employee who has been contributing under the new pension scheme dies before his/her retirement, his/her retirement benefits shall be paid to his/her beneficiary under a will or the spouse and children of the deceased or in the absence of a wife or child, to the recorded next-of-kin or any person designated by him/her during his/her lifetime or in the absence of such designation, to any person appointed by the Probate Registry as the administrator of the estate of the deceased.       
 An annuity is an income purchased from an approved life insurance company which provides monthly or quarterly income to the retiree during his/her lifetime.
 A programmed withdrawal is a method by which the employee collects his/her retirement benefits in periodic sums spread throughout the length of an estimated life span.       
 The balance in the RSA will be used to procure an annuity that provides regular income to the contributor or fund a programmed withdrawal.
 Withdrawals from the RSA can only be made upon retirement. However, why an employee makes additional or voluntary lump sum contributions into the RSA, he can withdraw such money before retirement or attainment of the age of 50 years.   
 If at the commencement of the Pension Reform Act 2004, the employee is entitled to gratuity (if he were to retire on that date), the gratuity shall be computed and included in the actuarial valuation as part of the accrued pension rights of such employee.   
 Upon retirement, an employee can draw a lump sum (by whatever name called) from the balance standing to the credit of his/her RSA provided the balance after the withdrawal could provide an annuity or fund monthly payments that would not be less than 50% of his monthly pay as at the date of his/her retirement. However, an employer may choose to pay any other severance benefits (by whatever name called) over and above the retirement benefits payable to the employee subject to the terms and conditions of his/her employment.       
 Access to the RSA will only be allowed after retirement. If an employee retires at the age of 50 years or more he/she can have immediate access to the RSA. Similarly, if an employee retires before the age of 50 years due to mental or physical incapacity, he/she can have immediate access to his/her RSA. Whereas an employee who retires under the age of 50 years in accordance with the terms and conditions of employment will not access the RSA until after six months of such retirement if he/she does not secure another employment.   
 There is no qualifying period fro pension. If an employee works for an employer for one month, his pension contribution will be paid by the employer into the employee’s Retirement Savings account (RSA) for that month. If the employee moves on to work for another employer for another 1 year, his pension contribution will be paid by the second employer for that period of 1 year and it goes on and on like that.
 The Act did not stipulate any retirement age. It depends on each employee’s terms and conditions of employment.   


On the effects of the new pension scheme on the country’s economy

 Pension Fund Administrators (PFAs) will issue regular statements of accounts and profit from investments to the employees.       
 There will be a huge pool of long-term funds available for investments, which will lead to national economic development.       
 The new pension scheme will ensure that you receive your pension after retirement without any delay.
 Tax will be paid on the profit made from trading with the money in the Retirement Savings Account.   
 Contributions to the new pension scheme are tax free.      
 

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