Pension funds rise to N5.7tn

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The total assets under the Contributory Pension Scheme rose from N5.3tn in December last year to N5.729tn at the end of June.

The funds, which stood at N4.6tn in December 2014, include the total amount contributed by the subscribers, the investments and profits generated.

Figures obtained from the National Pension Commission on Friday showed that about N3.86tn, which was 67.48 per cent of the funds was invested in the FGN securities.

The pension operators invested N561.44bn and N494.5bn, which represent 9.8 per cent and 8.6 per cent of the total pension funds in domestic ordinary shares and local money market securities, respectively.

According to the PenCom report, N269.8bn was invested in corporate debt securities and N212.83bn went into real estate properties, amounting to 4.71 per cent and 3.71 per cent of the total assets, respectively.

The operators invested N139.58bn and N99.49bn in state government securities and foreign ordinary shares, representing 2.44 per cent and 1.74 per cent of the total funds respectively.

The report also showed that the rest of the funds had been invested in supra-national bonds, foreign money market securities, open/close-end funds, private equity funds, infrastructure funds, cash and other assets.

PenCom said that as of March ending, over seven million workers had registered under the CPS.

Operators of the CPS made a profit of about N2.2tn from the investment of the rising funds in their custody from inception of the scheme.

The Director-General, PenCom, Mrs. Chinelo Anohu-Amazu, said the investment of the pension funds must follow the laid down guidelines.

“The pension funds are not idle but we don’t just give out money arbitrarily. The Pension Funds Administrators are the investors of the funds and PenCom regulates the investment,” she said.

She said if any PFA invested the funds in assets not approved, the commission would know and could withdraw the operator’s licence or apply some other forms of punishment.

More than a decade after the CPS commenced, the director-general said no fraud had been recorded in the scheme.

The commission said it had continued its consultative philosophy in regulating and supervising the industry.

“The risk-based examination approach was implemented as a way of promoting transparency and providing early warning signals as well as encouraging pension operators to regularly self-evaluate their positions,” it stated.

PenCom gave the major issues observed from the review of the compliance reports forwarded by the operators during the first quarter of the financial period as un-credited pension contributions and delays in the payment of retirement benefits to the retirees.

It also identified the failure to fill vacant top management positions by operators as an emerging issue.

The commission said it had sent letters to the affected operators concerening the issues and it was already receiving responses from them.

It added that some of the issues were raised with the operators during its site examinations.

The Chairman, Pension Fund Operators Association of Nigeria, Mr. Eguarehide Longe, also said the increasing pension funds were not idle in the bank.

According to him, the funds are active in different investment portfolios.

He said, “We need to disabuse the minds of politicians that there are sharp practices in the industry that the money is in a bank account somewhere and just waiting to be taken. We constantly have to explain that the money is not in a bank account anywhere; it has been invested.”

The chairman also said the industry was targeting N20tn from the scheme and 30 million subscribers in the next eight years.

He said there were ample provisions in the investment guidelines that allowed the funds to be invested in projects such as infrastructure, private equity and real estate.

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