Retired paramilitary officers in the country have asked to be exempted from the Contributory Pension Scheme (CPS).
The retired officers, under the aegis of the National Association of Retired Paramilitary Officers, stated this in a statement in Abuja on Monday ahead of their participation in the public hearing by the House of Representatives on the bill to Amend the Pension Reform Act 2014.
The statement was signed by the National President of the association, Victor Ogbebor.
The bill, first sponsored by Oluwole Oke (PDP, Osun) in 2017, seeks to amend the Pension Reform Act to provide for exemption of the Nigeria Police Force from contributory pension scheme.
However, at the time, the police said they were not interested.
The CPS, established under the Pension Reform Act of 2004, was repealed and replaced with the Pension Reform Act in 2014.
It mandates a minimum contribution of 10 and eight per cent of employees’ monthly emolument by the employer and employee respectively. This is paid into the employee’s Retirement Savings Account (RSA).
The bill before the House also provides that a pensioner shall receive at least 75 per cent of his/her retirement benefits upon retirement and criminalises the undue delay in the payment of pension.
Lawmakers had said the bill, if passed into law, will ensure proper remuneration of police officers at retirement and also enhance their welfare.
Public hearing for the legislation is scheduled to hold on February 22.
In the statement sent to PREMIUM TIMES, the association noted that the military and other paramilitary agencies such as the SSS and DIA have been withdrawn from the CPS due to the hazardous nature of their jobs.
The association said the reason it advances exempting the military, together with the police and other paramilitary agencies, is because they also face similar hazards and difficulties in the course of their constitutional or assigned duties.
The argument of some people that the withdrawal of paramilitary agencies from the CPS, will destroy the very soul of the scheme is not true, it said.
This is because the PENCOM accrued assets is only less than 10 per cent – the disinvestment being alleged is therefore insignificant.
The association further noted that the problem of the CPS is caused by the ignoble role of pension administrators who are allegedly profiting from the scheme to the detriment of the contributors on whose behalf they are investing the funds.
“This inordinate profit undisputedly is what informs the resistance of those against the withdrawal of the para-military Services from the CPS despite the minute share of their contribution.
“That in spite of the huge profits declared at the end of every year at Annual General Meetings, pensioners who are on the new scheme (PENCOM) have been on the same amount as programmed monthly pensions from the period of retirement from service until last year when they decided to add some pittance.
“This is contrary to Section 72 of the Act, which states that the contributions shall be invested by the pension fund administration for safety and maintenance of fair returns on the amount invested,” the association said.
It also complained that pensioners who had very few years to retire before the commencement of CPS lost much more.
“The CPS may be good if affected individuals have sufficient number of years to do so before retirement and not for people who are at the verge of retirement. At the implementation of the contributory pension scheme in June 2004, the circular from the office of Head of Service of Civil Service of the Federation only exempted people who have three years left to go on retirement from being enrolled on the scheme.
“…If you have three years and even one month to go on retirement, you are dumped in the CPS when no meaningful contributions have been made by retirees who have put in 25 years and above.
“Retirees under CPS get little or nothing from monthly pension compared to their colleagues in the Defined Benefit Pension Scheme who earn 80 per cent of their monthly salary while in the service as their monthly pension. Retirees on CPS earn peanuts far less than 20 per cent of their monthly salary while in the service as their monthly pension,” it said.
While the association thanked the House of Representatives for embarking on the exercise of removing the police force from the contributory pension scheme, it pleaded that the paramilitary services be included in the exercise in the interest of justice, equity and fair play.
Alternatively, they also asked that the House look into the possibility of reverting CPS retirees who have put in 25 years and above in the service of their nation before the commencement of the contributory pension scheme in June 2004 to Defined Benefit Pension Scheme.
They said this was apt since they did not have sufficient time to contribute anything meaningful that would have placed them at vantage position on retirement.
This, they said, will put an end to the agitation against poor implementation of CPS.
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