The National Pension Commission (PenCom) has started a nationwide verification and enrolment exercise of all employees of Treasury Funded Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) of the Federal Government that are due to retire between January and December, 2014 for payment of their retirement benefits.
Emeka Onuoha, the spokesman of PenCom told reporters that there were mistakes and complications in the process of getting necessary data of the contributors which necessitated early commencement of the verification exercise so that all loose ends would be tightened early enough.
Commenting on why the transfer window for contributors to the scheme has not been thrown open for them to change non-performing Pension Fund Administrators (PFAs), in line with the Pension Reform Act 2004, he said it was due to data gathering problems.
“The commission is aware that the transfer window is an important aspect of the Contributory Pension Scheme but there are a lot of complications.
“There is the need to sort out issues that has to do with data. The commission is working hard to forestall the challenge of multiple registration which can mar the system if not properly done.
“As a result, the commission does not want to continue with mistakes that has been discovered and has decided not to rush but ensure a genuine process of the transfer window,” he said.
Onuoha said at the moment, some MDAs have different data base of their employees, but the commission does not intend to rely on them, adding that the National Data Department of PenCom had been working on how to get the best out of the situation and would come up with a solution soon.
In line with the Pension Reform Act 2004, PenCom contributors under the new pension scheme who are dissatisfied with the services being rendered to them by their Pension Fund Administrators (PFAs) would have the opportunity to transfer their Retirement Savings Account (RSA) from one PFA to another.
Section 11(2) of the Act provides that the employee may, not more than once in a year, transfer his RSA from one PFA to another without adducing any reason for such transfer. This provision is intended to facilitate pension assets portability in the pensions industry, and enhance healthy competition among the PFAs.
It said notwithstanding, Section 11 (2) of the PRA 2004, the provisions of this regulation apply to a single transfer of RSAs in a calendar year, adding that subsequent review of the regulation would address multiple transfers of RSAs within a calendar year.
PenCom noted that RSA transfers shall only be effected quarterly; namely first, second, third and fourth quarters, adding that, however, an RSA holder seeking subsequent transfer of his/her RSA shall be eligible for such transfer after 12 months.
PenCom said failure by PFAs/PFCs to provide support to RSA holders shall attract a fine of N100,000 per RSA and N10,000 for every month of violation.
Similarly, a monthly sanction of N100,000 per RSA shall be imposed on any PFA who violates the law. Onuoha further said PenCom has began a verification and enrolment of employees of Treasury Funded MDAs of the Federal Government who are to retire between January and December 2014 for the payment of their benefits.