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Investment in FG’s securities not loan, PenCom clarifies

The Director-General of the National Pension Commission (PenCom), Mrs Aisha Dahir-Umar, has described  reports that the commission gave a N10 trillion loan to the federal…

The Director-General of the National Pension Commission (PenCom), Mrs Aisha Dahir-Umar, has described  reports that the commission gave a N10 trillion loan to the federal government as “totally misleading”

Dahir-Umar, in a media interview over the weekend,  clarified that the federal government’s investments by Pension Fund Administrators (PFAs) did not in any way pass as loan to the federal government, adding that  PenCom is not a bank and does not warehouse or manage pension funds.

“Investments by the PFAs in the securities of the Federal Government of Nigeria (FGN) are not loans as erroneously portrayed, but investments in securities, through bonds and treasury bills, as approved by the relevant government agencies, in this case the Debt Management Office (DMO) and Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC).

“They are traded on authorized capital markets. That is, the Nigerian Exchange Limited and FMDQ OTC Securities Exchange,” Mrs. Dahir-Umar explained.

Speaking further, she said, “Moreover, pension fund assets are not managed by PenCom. I have said it repeatedly that when we say pension assets have grown to N15tn, that does not mean PenCom has N15tn locked somewhere in its office or bank accounts.

“Pension fund assets are managed by the licensed PFAs and held in custody by the licensed Pension Fund Custodians (PFCs). The PFAs are responsible for investing pension fund assets in allowable asset classes, including FGN debt instruments.

“The objectives are safety and fair returns. All these are in line with the provisions of the enabling law, the Pension Reform Act 2014, and the rules issued by the commission. It is obvious from the above that what is referred to as ‘loan to FGN’ is just investment in FGN securities by the PFAs, as is done by other institutional investors such as banks, insurance companies, asset managers, etc.”

The PenCom DG added that it is an international best practice to invest in investible instruments issued or backed by the sovereign authority and that the FGN securities meet the objectives of safety and fair returns.

She further clarified claims about outstanding benefits to federal government retirees.

“The delayed payment of retirement benefits to some federal government retirees and deceased employees is because of the inadequate and delayed funding for the payment of Accrued Pension Rights for those who were in service before the Contributory Pension Scheme (CPS) was introduced when PenCom was established in 2004.

“Payment of the accrued rights is subject to release of funds by the federal government. So, it is beyond the powers of the Commission. However, we have been engaging the Federal Ministry of Finance for more funds to be released to settle these liabilities, but it is not a secret that the government itself has budgetary constraints,” she added.

 

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