The Pension Transitional Arrangement Directorate, PTAD, said on Tuesday said it has been working under very constraining conditions since its establishment.
The Director-General of PTAD, Nellie Mayshak, said at the Sensitisation Workshop for Treasury Funded Parastatals in Abuja that the directorate took off without the data base of pensioners.
“I did not inherit any pensioner’s data base when I came into office,” Mrs. Mayshak said. “Currently, we have a lot of challenges with the payroll we (the directorate) are using to pay pensioners.”
Prior to the establishment of the directorate by the Federal Government in 2013, Mrs. Mayshak said the administration of pension funds in the country was plagued by cases of embezzlement. But, today, she said, the agency, which was established to cater for pensioners under the old pension scheme of Pay-As-You-Earn, PAYE, has managed to plug sources of misappropriation of pension funds.
“There has not been a single incident of misappropriation of pension funds since PTAD was established and there will never be,” she assured.
She said what has contributed to the success story in the management of the pension has been the systems, which completely eliminated pension officials from physically accessing pension funds.
Every payment, she said, is now done electronically through Government Integrated Financial Management Information System, GIFMIS, from the office of the Accountant General of the Federation.
For the electronic payment to be effective and sustain its transparency, Mrs. Mayshak said, pensioners need to submit their correct account details to the pension authorities.
She said that the directorate had put in place a mechanism to track and solve non-payment problems often raised by pensioners, stressing the need to obtain data of every existing pensioner under the old scheme.
“There is also the need to digitalise the pension process. The only way to create a database of pensioners is to go out and carry out a nationwide biometric capturing and verification of old pensioners,” she said. “The benefit of this arrangement is that ghost workers and duplicated payments will be eliminated.”
She promised to continue to work with relevant stakeholders like the office of the Accountant-General and Budget Office for quick payment of pensions.
The director-general warned banks to desist from purposely delaying payment of pensioners for the purpose of making gain on the money before such payments were made, saying that erring banks would be sanctioned.
The Head of Civil Service of the Federation, Bukar Goni, urged PTAD to establish call centres for easy enquiries and feedback from pensioners.
Mr. Goni, who was represented by the Permanent Secretary, Common Services, in his office, Yemi Adelakun, said, “The time when people have to travel all the way from Maiduguri, Calabar, to Abuja just for information is over.”
He said the President Goodluck Jonathan, during the recent World Pensions Summit in Abuja, advocated for immediate digitisation of the pension administration in the country.
Urging government to set up call centres for easy enquiries and feed back to pensioners, Mr. Goni said he was confident that the days when monies meant for pensioners were carted away by pension officials were over.
The President, National Union of Pensioners, Abel Afolayan, said that the establishment of PTAD had revived pensioners’ hope in the administration of pension funds in the country.