13 February 2013

Nigeria: Pension Operators Eye 20 Million RSA Holders in 2017

The Association of Pension Fund Operators (PenOp) has unveiled its medium term plan, saying that its members have plans to increase the number of Retirement Savings Account (RSA) holders from the present 5.5 million to 20 million by the end of 2017.

The players in the eight years old pension industry in the country hinged their optimism on their readiness to get informal sector workers and self employed people across the country to be part of the contributory pension scheme.

The President of PenOp, Mr. Dave Uduanu, made this known while addressing newsmen in Lagos recently.

He said additional incentives have already been proposed to make the pension scheme more beneficial and attractive to workers in the informal sector, saying they account for as much as 60 per cent of the working population of Nigeria.

The National Pension Commission (PenCom), according to him, has released an exposure draft of the framework for the participation of the informal sector workers and self-employed people to make it possible for them to be part of the scheme very soon.

Uduanu also stated that when the guidelines are finally approved and released by the pension regulator, it would enable the participation of the target people and effectively increase the coverage of the scheme.

The PenOp president also stated optimism that the amended guidelines that would open the way for incorporate a multi-fund structure for Retirement Saving Accounts (RSA) funds would be released by the pension regulator before the end of this quarter, saying this would further boost pension business in the country.

"The decision to introduce the multi-fund structure in the first quarter 2013 is to allow enough time for public education and sensitisation by the commission and also allow operators enough time to be ready to implement the structure.

"The multi-fund would be primarily differentiated by their overall exposure to variable income instruments and a contributor's choice of funds may be limited based on the age of the contributor. Also the multi-fund structure would likely also allow for the introduction of a non-interest or ethical fund," he said.

Before now, PenCom said its investment regulation has been revised to accommodate more investment options, adding that before the end of this quarter, the commission would release an updated version of its investment regulation to formally give more investment option for pension assets.

This according to the commission is to further its decision to create more investment options for pension assets in response to stakeholders' complaints that fund managers were not given a free hand to invest pension assets using their skills and experience to maximise returns on funds under management.

"The Regulation on Investment of Pension Fund Assets (Regulation) had been further revised in response to the dynamics of the financial and regulatory environment. The major highlights include the introduction of Exchange Traded Funds (ETFs) as allowable instruments; and incorporation of Guidelines on Global Depository Receipts/Notes (GDRs/GDNs) and Eurobonds, amongst others. The Regulation becomes effective from 17 December, 2012.

"The new Multi-fund Structure for Retirement Savings Account (RSA) Funds would be incorporated into the amended Regulation in the 1st Quarter of 2013. This is to provide ample time for the commencement of a public education/sensitisation campaign on the multi-fund structure by the commission as well as for licensed Pension Fund Operators (PenOps) to be operationally ready to implement same," the commission stated.

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