The 2021 Edition of the National Pension Commission (PenCom) Journalists Workshop was held in Lagos. The annual event is aimed at strengthening the capacity of the media in ensuring effective reportage of the Contributory Pension Scheme (CPS) and other pension matters.
The Workshop was attended by correspondents covering pension, from various media organizations in the country, including members of the National Association of Insurance and Pension Correspondents (NAIPCO) and other media practitioners. The previous edition of the workshop was held in Benin City in 2019 even as the event could not be held in 2020 due to the COVID-19 Pandemic.
In her welcome remarks at the Workshop, the Director General of PenCom, Mrs. Aisha Dahir- Umar, noted that “the emergence of the COVID-19 Pandemic has necessitated a review of business processes across various organizations; indeed, it has engendered socio-economic disruptions of the entire global order, with multifarious challenges in conducting hitherto routine activities, was therefore imperative for the Commission to deepen technological innovation as it seeks to navigate through the challenges imposed by the pandemic.”
The workshop, themed “Positioning the Pension Industry in a Post COVID Era”, highlighted the Commission’s laudable response to the pandemic through technology and engagement with relevant stakeholders. While describing the technological attainments by PenCom, the Director General noted that “the most recent technological innovation introduced by the Commission is the in house designed and developed online Enrolment Application, which has capabilities to register, verify and enroll prospective retirees of Treasury-Funded Federal Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs). By the deployment of this new application, mass gathering of people has been avoided while enhancing convenience for the prospective retirees through a seamless enrolment process. “
She pointed out that another notable technological innovation by the Commission was the design and deployment of the Retirement Savings Account (RSA) Transfer System (RTS), which was launched in November 2020. “The RTS is a Computer Application developed by the Commission, through which RSA holders transfer their RSAs from one Pension Fund Administrator (PFA) to another. Indeed, the activation of the RSA transfer provision, which deepens individual choices, is a major milestone in the implementation of the CPS,” she told the participants.
Providing updates on significant developments since the last Workshop in 2019, the PenCom Director General also informed the correspondents of the recent approval by His Excellency, President Muhammadu Buhari, GCFR on the Commission’s submission on payment of some outstanding pension liabilities of the Federal Government, under the CPS.
She said the Presidential approval covered payment of outstanding accrued pension rights for verified and enrolled retirees of treasury-funded Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAS) that are yet to be paid their retirement benefits; payment of the backlog of death benefits claims due to beneficiaries of deceased employees of treasury funded MDAs and payment of 2.5 percent differential in the rate of employer pension contribution for FGN retirees and employees, which resulted from the increase in the minimum pension contribution for employers from 7.5 percent to 10 percent, in line with Section 4(1) of the Pension Reform Act (PRA) 2014. During the Workshop, there were presentations on the RTS and Online Enrolment Applications.
There was also a presentation on PenCom’s Strategic Focus Areas, which were described as the areas of emphasis that are pursued vigorously towards the attainment of its objectives. These include Public Enlightenment and education; the resolution of outstanding pension liabilities of the Federal Government: portfolio diversification of pension fund investments; improvement in customer service delivery across the pension industry and unrelenting pursuit of sustainable growth of the pension industry by expanding coverage of the CPS.
The Workshop was very interactive and the participants made worthwhile observations and sought clarifications on some issues presented. Speaking on behalf of participants, the NAIPCO President, Mr. Chucks Okonta, expressed gratitude to PenCom for the annual capacity building Workshop, while appealing for more sensitization and awareness to bridge the knowledge gap about the CPS.
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