About N7billion of pensions contributions have not been delivered to the owners’ accounts due to discrepancies and infrastructural challenges in Nigeria’s Pensions industry. The Pensions Operators of Nigeria (PON) says that this figure represents the outstanding balance on un-credited contributions made by individuals and corporations to the various pension schemes in the country as at the end of the third quarter of this year.
This revelation is coming, just as complaints by the subscribers have continued to mount over discrepancies in the records of their contributions with the various Pension Fund Administrators (PFAs) nationwide.
The chairman of the body of pension operators, Dave Uduanu, said despite efforts by the regulatory authorities and operators in the industry to check the problem, operators continue to suffer sundry constraints as a result of inadequate ICT infrastructure base, existing distance between operators and contributors, poor quality of services and bureaucratic hiccups between the operators and the regulator.
“Operators must appoint relationship officers to each of their clients for the purpose of prompt conflict resolution, to ensure customer satisfaction. As at September 30, 2011, outstanding balance on un-credited contributions in the industry stood at close to N7billion. A seamless approach to ensure that remittances received from contributors are promptly credited must be put in place,” he said.
Mr. Uduanu, who is also the Managing Director of Pensions Alliance Limited, canvassed the adoption of a new strategic approach that would ensure timely remittances and prompt crediting of subscribers’ contributions on a sustainable basis, saying this is the only way to check the problem the industry is currently facing.
According to him, since pensions is a retail-inclined business, the operators ought to develop appropriate communication and other operational strategies that will enable them to reach out to contributors at their locations and to invest in innovative ICT and other infrastructure critical for efficient service delivery and retention of the confidence of the subscribers.
On the need for the National Pension Commission (PENCOM) to decentralise its operations as a means of ensuring quick resolution of minor problems in the management of the scheme, Mr. Uduanu charged the Commission to urgently commence the process of opening offices in the six geo-political zones, pointing out that this will rob off positively on service delivery in the industry.
“As a way of sustaining the benefits of the scheme, operators need to make their presence felt in all parts of the country. The business being retail -inclined needs to be taken to the clients’ domicile irrespective of the cost. There has to be huge investment in ICT and infrastructure to deliver good services and therefore retain the confidence of the scheme subscriber.
“Approval request on benefit payments, be it Temporary Access (25% for temporary loss of job), or Lump sum on Programme, withdrawal or transfer for annuity must be promptly treated to the delight of the customer. Unnecessary bottlenecks between the operator and the regulator that delay services to the customer must be avoided. The Commission is being called upon to establish offices (as promised) in the geo-political zones to quicken resolution of issues, especially those requiring minor approvals”, Uduanu added.