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Good news: Market women, carpenters, others to receive pension

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Efforts are in top gear to end old age poverty in Nigeria through the introduction of Micro Pension for self-employed Nigerians, Eric Fajemisin, the chief executive officer of Stanbic IBTC Pension Managers Ltd (SIPML) has disclosed.

Speaking at a media parley organized by SIPML in Lagos on Thursday, December 1, Fajemisin disclosed that the federal government and Pension Fund Administrators (PFA) are currently working out the possibility of rolling out the micro pension scheme in the first quarter of next year, NAIJ.com reports.

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According to Fajemisin, the micro pension scheme is aimed at self-employed Nigerians in the informal market.

Recall that at the birth of the Pension Reform Act, 2004, one of the main concerns and indeed, weaknesses was that it was not an all-inclusive scheme. The Act, in its Section 2, identifies persons it is applicable to as “all employees in the Public Service of the Federation, Federal Capital Territory and the Private Sector.” Employees at the state level were later added to the pension scheme. But there was no room for the self-employed individuals.

Hence, Fajemisin believes that the government’s plan to set up a micro-pension scheme to accommodate the self-employed is a welcomed development.

However, Fajemisin admitted that there will be challenges for the micro pension to come on board.

He said: “Micro pension can cover a larger share of the working population who are in the informal sector as they don’t have employers and are self-employed.

“The micro pension scheme is being worked out and we hope that by next year, first quarter, we would be able to engage the market and start sensitizing the people about it.

“But there will be challenges as there must be an incentive for micro pension to come on board.”

Although Fajemisin noted that the micro pension scheme will help close the gap on the number of Nigerians registered in the pension scheme.

According to him 7.3million out of over 180million Nigerians are registered in the pension scheme.

“7.3million Nigerians are registered in the pension scheme but that is like a drop in the ocean because we have over 180million Nigerians.  So at least 170million Nigerians do not have a pension. This is why we believe the micro pension scheme can help close the gap,” Fajemisin said.

Speaking on the growth of Stanbic IBTC Pension Managers Ltd, Fajemisin said the company has recorded close to N2trillion in assets in the last 10 years.

“In terms of capitalization, we are arguably the most capitalized in the industry as we are 140% ahead of where we should be and in terms of assets we manage close to N2trillion as at today,” Fajemisin said.

He said SIPML has emerged as the country’s largest PFA in terms of clients as the company generated 11% interest for its clients in the last 10 years.

“Pension assets are not for a very risky investment, we don’t take unnecessary risk. We are committed to transparency, safety and liquidity,’’ Mr. Fajemisin also noted.

Fajemisin said SIPML would continue to set higher standards of service delivery and ensure that retirement savings account holders derived maximum value from their contributions.

According to him, the company will continue to broaden and enhance its service channels to ensure efficient service delivery.

He added that pension funds were for retirements and not meant for infrastructure investment.

On his part, Oladele Sotubo, SIPML executive director investments said that about 11% of the company’s assets were invested in the equities owing to current market realities.

Sotubo said that protection of assets was very critical to the company as well as quality of stock.

He stated that the nation’s bourse had not witnessed quality listing in the last four years, noting that the company only invests in quality stocks.

Steve Elusope, the company’s executive director operations, said there were untapped opportunities in pension funds management services.

According to Elusope, the pension management industry can play an important role in the nation’s economy, in spite of the present recession if well developed.

He said that poor adoption of pension scheme in the country remained a major threat to economic growth and development.

Elusope said: “This is such a critical time in our nation economy considering the fact that we are in a recession. But in spite of all the challenges, we believe there are opportunities for growth and development and these opportunities exist within the pension funds managers. Pension management can play an important role in the growth of our economy.”

Meanwhile, reports in some quarters indicate that the federal government is planning to commence a pilot phase of the micro-pension which is expected to produce a minimum enrollment of 250,000 in the first six months.

 

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