N8.63tn pension fund assets not under threat – PenCom DG

the acting Director-General, National Pension Commission, Aisha Dahir-Umar,  on Thursday, said that the Pension Fund Assets which stood at about N8.63tn as of December last year was not under any form of threat as being widely speculated.

She said that contrary to claims that the non-composition of a board for the commission was affecting the management of the fund, the commission had a robust framework to ensure that the fund was not tampered with in a manner that would affect its sustainability.

She said these in a submission made at a hearing organised by an ad hoc committee of the House of Representatives set up to investigate the activities of PenCom.

Some of the areas the committee is investigating are alleged impasse created as a result of some appointments at the commission; allegation of an increase in the number of directorates to make room for more people to be made directors; and illegal increase in the commission’s end of service benefit by 300 per cent, among others.

But in the document submitted to the committee, the PenCom acting DG said the allegations were untrue.

She said, “We have studied the house resolution and we discovered that the following allegations are levelled against the commission.

“Our submission is that the allegations are all false, unfounded. The facts on the ground do not in any way indicate any case of contravention of the Pension Reform Act 2014 by the commission.

“We strongly believe the House does not have the right information and we believe that given the right information, the House will disregard the allegations before it.”

In specific terms, in the area of an impasse in appointments, she said that Section 19(3) of the PRA 2014 stated that only the President had the power to appoint the Chairman, Director-General and the four commissioners for the PenCom board which was subject to confirmation by the Senate

She explained that all other members of the board were institutional representatives, adding that there was no way anyone in the commission could influence such an appointment.

She said, “The career members of staff in the commission have no say or influence on the decisions taken by the President or the legislature towards this matter.

“We are, therefore, at a loss to how we have been accused of creating this impasse. It is, therefore, incorrect to allege that the current transitional management is stalling the resumption of the board of the Commission. If anything, we can’t wait for their arrival.”

On the issue of illegally increasing the directorates so as to raise the number of directors from ten to 17,  she said that the current organogram of the Commission was approved by the board at its 46th meeting held on June 12, 2015, with a structure of five Divisions and 20 Departments.

This structure, she noted, subsisted till date and had not been altered.

She added, “Consequently, it is incorrect to state that additional directorates have been created by the Commission during the current transitional period.

“Furthermore, the Commission has not recruited any additional director since the beginning of the transitional period in April 2017 to date.

“What happened was a normal and duly approved promotion exercise for career members of staff of the Commission, where three Deputy General Managers were promoted to the grade of General Managers after duly satisfying the established criteria in accordance with the terms and conditions of their employment.”

She explained that the Report of the Annual Staff Performance Appraisal exercise, containing recommendations for promotion to General Manager and other grades, was approved by the Secretary to the Government of the Federation on April 18, 2018, in the absence of a functional board of the Commission.

This, she noted, was consistent with the provision of Section 17(5) of the PRA 2014 and Section 9 of the First Schedule to the PRA 2014, as well as the President’s directive of July 16, 2015 to all Ministries, Departments and Agencies whose boards were dissolved that issues requiring approval of boards should be sent to him for decision through the respective supervising ministries.

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