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News Analysis: New police pension scheme, benefits to retirees

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The current Contributory Pension Scheme (CPS) was introduced to address several of the shortcomings of previous Nigerian pension schemes which the former could not achieve in tackling the problems faced by police retirees.

Though, some of the Pension Fund Administrators  (PFAs) licensed and charged with the responsibility still could not fully address the peculiarities of the Police Force like the reconciliation of police personnel data which is crucial for obtaining pension contributions from the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and for effective pension administration.

As a result, the Federal Government approved that members of the Nigeria Police Force should continue to be covered under the CPS, with a proviso that a Pension Fund Administrator be incorporated that will cater to the unique needs of the Police and by so doing, effectively manage their pension and other welfare issues.

Other welfare to be addressed by PFAs are Group Life Assurance and Health Insurance Schemes of the members of police force, consequently, this led to the establishment of several PFAs including NPF Pensions Limited.

The NPF Pensions Limited was incorporated with a fully paid share capital of one billion naira and the two major shareholders are;  Nigeria Police Welfare Insurance Cooperative Society Ltd and Nigeria Police Multipurpose Cooperative Society Limited.

The Nigeria News Agency reports that about N6.1 billion was also paid to pensioners in the old scheme with Police Pension Department (PPD) by Pension Transitional Arrangement Directorate (PTAD in the year 2018.

Speaking on the new scheme, Malam Ahmed Umar, a retired ASP lauded the PFAs for ensuring prompt payment of pension to police retirees in the country.

Umar who retired from active service in 2017 said his PFA had been effective and efficient as his pension was being paid as at when due.

“I get my pension every 15th of the month, this month’s own was paid on 10th because of Sallah, honestly, the PFA is trying, it has been efficient so far.

“My concern has been on the aspect of gratuity, only half of my benefits was paid to me after retirement and I don’t know why” he asked.

He advised PFAs to ensure continued sensitisation of pensioners and retirees about their activities to avoid suspicions.

Reacting, an official from NPF Pension Limited who pleaded for anonymity said a lot of reforms had been carried out in the new scheme to check fraud tendency in the system.

The official explained that no officer working with his organisation was allowed to have access to fund any longer unlike in the past.

“In the past what may have been happening, is that one person regulates and another person is in charge. In this case what we do is to manage the information, the data and everything that has to do with the client.

“If there are things we need to deal with on funds, we instruct our custodian to deal with that accordingly, so we are not exposed to cash.

“In terms of what we have done to mitigate a repeat of what happened in the past, the pension industry is a well regulated industry now. The job of PENCOM is well known to every person as a regulator.

“The pension fund administrator as the name implies is to administer the retirement savings account of every client. And there is the pension fund custodian, who are the custodians of these funds.

“There is no way, our customers will have access to funds. And that makes the pension fund industry one of the most secured industry in the country, because access to funds are limited. It is different from what it used to be,” he explained.

The source disclosed that his organisation had plans to establish a retiree research resettlement report scheme where certain amount would be set aside to ensure that all the police officers who retired and are waiting for their payment,  get something no matter how small immediately after retirement.

He added that such money was meant for them to use pending when their  pension would p be paid in full.

“So, we are the only PFA that is doing that. Other goodwill we have done is that we have offices where we can meet people so that at every point in time they can always speak to us.

“One of the key challenges of the (PFA) business is ability to have a place where the client can always complain, some of the PFAs in the country do not have offices.

“We have desk officers in all our command information centres, we understand the challenge of the police and because we understand the problem, we are trying to make sure that we get at their beck and call.

“You know that the policemen, most times some of them are aggressive because of how the system is but in spite of their aggressiveness, we will make out time to ensure that our people are attending to them.

“But you know when you are embarking on a journey, you continue to go until you get to your destination and sometimes also we listen to them to ensure that the issues of their welfare is well taken care of,” he said.

Edited by Ese E.  Ekama

 

Economy

CBN to build 7 diagnostic centres in 6 geopolitical zones, Abuja

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The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), says it will build diagnostic centres in the six geopolitical zones of the country and Abuja.

The CBN Governor, Mr Godwin Emefiele disclosed this while speaking with newsmen at the inauguration of a centre, named ‘CBN Centre of Excellence’ at Ahmadu Bello University (ABU), Zaria on Thursday.

Emefiele explained that the centre that would be established in Abuja would have both heart and cancer diagnostic centres.

He however, said depending on available funding, the construction which would commence by 2020 or 2021 would be ready by 2024 or 2025.

According to him, such centres are important because what usually takes Nigerians outside the country is diagnosis.

“The importance cannot be quantified because once your illness is diagnosed, the assignment of the doctors will be made simple.

“The centres will be done in a way that a referral will come from teaching and private hospitals.

“Those coming to access care at the centres will be paying to generate revenue so the centres can manage themselves without CBN interference,’’ he said.

According to him, health and education are the bedrock of any nation’s development and there is need to invest in them.

Edited by Ese E. Ekama

 

 

 

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Economy

Traders decry multiple taxation in Enugu market

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Traders in Ogbette Main Market, Enugu have expressed disaffection with the multiple taxation and levies in the market.

The traders also feared a possible outbreak of epidemic in the market due to the overflow of waste from a sewage in the nneigbouring premises of the Nigerian Correctional Service (former Nigerian Prisons Service)

They spoke at a sensitisation programme organised by a non-governmental organisation, called Strengthening Citizens Resistance against Prevalence of Corruption (SCRAP-C) project.

Nigeria News Agency reports that the taxes and levies were introduced by the market leadership as well as state and local governments.

One of the traders, Mr Patrick Ezema, said that they were emburdened with different types of levies and taxes that were affecting their businesses.

Ezema listed some of the levies to include sanitation levy, annual levy, EEDC levy, packing late levy and special security levy.

He said that they were more worried with the introduction of three other levies, including wheel barrow permit, hawkers’ permit and eating permit.

He said that the eating permit was being paid by caterers in the market, adding that stall levies were rising in geometric progression annually.

He said, “Some of these levies are unacceptable to us because their impact was not being felt in the market.”

Ezema wondered why wheelbarrow pushers and sachet water hawkers, who were struggling to survive, would be made to pay levies in the market.

On the overflow of waste into the market, he said, “many of us have fallen sick as a result of the human waste that flows into the market from the neighbouring building.”

Ezema called for urgent measures to check the situation to avert a possible outbreak of epidemic in the market.

Also, Mr James Ukomadu, another trader, appealed to the state and local government to build a clinic in the market to handle minor health issues and emergencies in the market.

Ukomadu also charged the market leadership to build necessary infrastructure in the market to justify the huge levies paid by traders.

Mrs Chinyere Ukatu appealed to the government to sink a borehole in the market, saying that the lack of potable water was affecting them.

In a speech, the Executive Director of DEDSRI, Ms Ogechukwu Enwelum, said that the aim of the sensitisation was to get first hand information on the issue of multiple taxation in the market.

Enwelum said that the organisation discovered from their investigation that the traders were grappling with multiple taxation.

She said that the situation was inconsistent with the reputation of Enugu as a state with a conducive environment for business.

“We call for advocacy to enable us understand the situation. We want businesses to grow in the state,” Enwelum said.

She also said that the group needed to know if there was an accountability forum in the market.

Nigeria News Agency reports that the issue of multiple taxation had been a recurrent phenomenon in the state.

Gov. Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi had at different fora expressed willingness to harmonise the levies.

NAN reports that SCRAP-C project, which is funded by the UKaid, is designed to build the capacity of the citizenry in the fight against corruption in Nigeria.

It was a brainchild of ActionAid Nigeria and being implemented in the state in partnership with Divine Era Development and Social Rights Initiative.

The programme is currently being implemented in six pilot states of the federation.

 

 

 

 

 

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Economy

Building collapse: Stakeholders call for effective regulation, legislation

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The Nigerian Society of Engineers (NSE) has stressed the need for all levels of government to enforce building regulations and necessary legislations to mitigate issues of building collapse in the country.

The NSE president, Mr Adekunle Mokuolu, said this on Thursday in Lagos during the August Breakfast meeting of the Nigerian American Chamber of Commerce (NACC).

The meeting was themed: “Building Collapse and the need for re-certification.’’

Mokuolu said that the re-certification of buildings was necessary to ensure they conformed to the purposes they are being used for and the building plans suitable for the locality where the buildings are situated.

“This, no doubt, could be a proactive or preventative step in curbing incessant building collapse in the country,’’ he said.

Mokuolu said that government should also ensure that only structural drawings prepared and endorsed by registered structural engineers are approved for construction.

He urged the government to upscale the capacities of their staff and equip building approvals and control agencies with experienced professionals to enhance safety and sanity in the construction industry.

According to him, building collapse in Nigeria has become a regular occurrence, that results in casualties, material losses, financial wastages and severe property damage.

He stressed that the government should ensure that property owners and developers whose property werer not covered by valid building approval plans should regularise such property after ascertaining the structural stability of the buildings.

The expert said that such qualitative structural assessment would reveal inherent dangers and the havoc that was associated with existing defective buildings.

He stressed the need for state governments to implement an integrity audit of all old structures within locations where previous collapse had been recorded.

“The Process of Certification and re-certification of old and existing structures should not be a “righteousness fulfilling approach” anymore. We must put practical and feasible enforcement around it all,” he said.

He charged all professional bodies in the construction industry to  embark on sensitisation campaigns for the public to create awareness on the evils and risks of using unqualified persons for construction.

Mokuolu emphasised that stiffer penalties should be placed on owners of collapsed buildings and project handlers in the country, especially where loss of lives was involved.

He said this would serve as a deterrent to the practices of some carefree developers in the country.

Also, Chief Adetola EmmanuelKing, Chief Executive Officer, Adron Homes and Properties, said that the country needed to pay attention to its housing outlook.

He stressed that enforcement of law to achieve standardisation was key, adding that government agencies should make the processes less cumbersome.

Mr Sunday Wusu, Vice Chairman, Lagos State Chapter, Nigerian Institute of Building (NIOB), stressed the need for more collaboration among professionals in the construction industry.

Earlier, Mr Ehi Braimah, Vice President, NACC, said the predominant rate of building collapse in Nigeria posed a grave concern and serious challenges to all stakeholders in the building construction industry.

“For every collapsed building, the footprints of destruction of lives and loss of properties in locations where they occur, mostly in the urban cities of Port Harcourt, Abuja and Lagos, are usually undesirable,” he said.

AIO/PIO

(Edited by Idonije Obakhedo)

 

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Economy

Economy: Capital market operators task new ministers on recession

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Some capital market operators on Thursday said there was the need for the new ministers to commence work without delay to revive the nation’s economy to avoid another round of recession.

They told the Nigeria News Agency in Lagos that the ministers must swing into action to revive the economy which was gradually descending into another round of recession.

Mr Sola Oni, a chartered stockbroker and Chief Executive Officer, Sofunix Investment and Communications, said the ministers needed to commence work without wasting time to revitalise the economy.

“We run an economy where about 65 per cent of our income is devoted to servicing debt which hovers at 70 billion dollars.

“This is a killer situation and the state of infrastructure is still a journey to be accomplished,” Oni said.

He noted that attractive rate of fixed income securities was fast crowding out investment in equities.

“Once investors continue to be apprehensive of macroeconomic stability, the issue of medium and long term investment horizon becomes unpopular.

“This is one of the major factors accounting for the continuous slide in prices of shares on the Nigerian Stock Exchange,” Oni said.

He said the ministers of Finance and Trade and Investment, the Senate and House of Representatives Capital Market Committees and the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) needed to collaborate with capital market stakeholders.

Oni said they should engage the capital market stakeholders to agree on specific policy issues that would ensure economic recovery so as to revive the capital market on the basis of short, medium and long-term.

“Morning shows the day. The engagement should not take a whole quarter in preparation,” he said.

Malam Garba Kurfi, the Managing Director, APT Securities and Funds Ltd, called for more robust economic policies that would boost investor confidence in the capital market.

Kurfi said that there was the need for fiscal policy that would support monetary policy aimed at stabilising the foreign exchange and lowering inflation rate.

He also called for the privatisation of GENCOs and DISCOs by the Federal Government to make both companies more viable.

According to him, government should embrace the capital market as a source for infrastructure development.

Mr Moses Igbrude, Publicity Secretary, Independent Shareholders Association of Nigeria (ISAN), said all the ministers should start work immediately because things were in bad shape.

“Those saddled with the management of the economy should work closely with the private sector to formulate policies that will help businesses in order to create jobs and wealth for Nigerians.

“Government must and should harness the potential of the capital market for economic growth and development.

“A private sector-driven economy is the best approach to a sustainable and prosperous economy anywhere in the world,” Igbrude said.

He that the new Federal Executive Council (FEC) should also pursue policies targeted at Ease of Doing Business, multiple foreign exchange market and multiple taxation.

Mr Boniface Okezie, National Coordinator, Progressive Shareholders Association of Nigeria, said the new cabinet should embrace friendly-oriented policies.

Okezie said they should make Nigeria an investment destination by addressing insecurity, kidnapping and herdsmen clashes.

“Investors cannot come and invest in a place that is not safe for them to do their businesses whether foreigners or Nigerians,” he said.

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Economy

Former NERC boss wants strong regulations to boost power sector 

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 Mr Sam Amadi, former Executive Chairman of  the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC) has called for strong regulations to drive the power sector for effective service delivery.

The forum has as its theme “Rules Compliance for Nigerian Electricity Market (NEM) Development and Sustainability”.¹

`We  need to strengthen the regulations in the sector, government is trying with some policies intervention but policies cannot drive a regulated market. It is policy plus regulation .

“What TCN is doing by  focusing on  smart rules that can force this entities to perform is in the right direction.

“We should not think that the investors  are coming to do the people good but they are coming to exploit the market .

“Our focus should be to create regulations that can put  incentive and reassess capacity of the investors by setting a bench mark,” he said.

Amadi said that  the critical issue in the market was funding, adding that  market participant know what to do to improve the sector

According to him, the assumption is that it will be easy for private investors to raise capital to finance short term recovery of capacity and long time improvement of that.

“The wrong assumption was that tariff will provide the finance but its not possible even if you increase tariff by 1000 per-cent.

“The people cannot pay enough and the DisCos do not have good revenue management procedure to recover their money

“Primarily, we need to have a sector that can finance in the long term and recover the long term .

“We need to go back to reassess the capacity of the investors, if they cannot do the job, you find a way to divide their franchise in a  way that it does not amount to risk.

Edited by Ese E. Ekama

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