Posted by Amechi Obiakpu | 27 February 2015 | 4,147 times
Coordinating Minister for the Economy and Minister of Finance, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, has said that the country’s efforts in sanitising the pension system are yielding positive results.
The minister stated this yesterday during the Pension Transitional Arrangement Directorate (PTAD) Stakeholders Forum in Abuja. She said that PTAD, which was established in August 2013 to manage the defined benefit scheme for those who retired on or before June 2007, has already recorded some significant successes.
Okonjo-Iweala said that Nigeria’s pensions system had become inefficient over the years with several billions of naira in arrears and strong allegations of fraud and looting. This, according to her, led to the pensions’ probe carried out by the National Assembly in 2013, which estimated that some N32 billion had been illegally carted away and over 14 individuals are currently standing trial today as a result.
Dr. Okonjo-Iweala said: “In the light of the widespread fraud that was revealed and his commitment to the welfare of pensioners, President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan took bold steps to consolidate pension reforms and clean up the mess in the system. As a result, he supported the establishment of the Pensions Transitional Arrangement Department (PTAD) in line with the provisions of the Pensions Reform Act passed in 2004.
“PTAD has been successful in reducing leakages of the pension funds, resulting in significant savings for the Federal Government, by working tirelessly to employ technology and entrench world class financial management practices in the management of pension funds. Most notably, the payment of monthly pensions and other retirement benefits is now done through the Government Integrated Financial Information Systems (GIFMIS). In addition to this, PTAD have successfully consolidated the many commercial bank accounts holding pension funds that had been prone to looting to just 3 or 4 accounts for more effective control and management,”
The minister noted that a nationwide verification process and biometric data capture for all pensioners was started in a bid to further infuse transparency and accountability into the pension system. She posited that the verification process has been completed in the North and South-West and anticipated the completion of the South-South and South-East in the coming weeks.
The minister however noted that there was still much work to be done but called on stakeholders to continue to have faith on the government.
According to her, “There is still a lot more to be done and I want to enjoin you not to keep your eye off the ball and to speedily resolve all issues, especially the payment of arrears, clean-up of the list of pensioners and prompt payment. However for PTAD to successfully achieve its goals, it would need the cooperation of all stakeholders. Pensioners and their next of kin most especially have a great role to play in PTAD’s mandate by ensuring that they duly present their documentation and inform PTAD about developments concerning their pensions. I would like to strongly encourage pensioners to cooperate with PTAD and to use the various access channels it has put in place for you to follow up with your pensions. By doing this, PTAD would be able to better serve you and ensure that no pensioner is left out of the scheme or short paid.
“We cannot turn the hands of the clock to wipe away the pains of the past. But we can do something: we can take action today to ensure that the future does not replicate the past. That is precisely what PTAD and the pension reforms are all about.
“So long as there is one pensioner who has not been attended to, our work is incomplete.”
•Photo shows Okonjo-Iweala.
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