Trustfund targets 24 hours for resolution of retirees’ complaints

2015_9$largeimg20_Sep_2015_224455400Explains merits of voluntary contribution

TRUSTFUND Pensions Plc has put in place mechanisms to ensure resolution of customers’ complaints within 24 hours, its Managing Director, Mrs. Helen da-Souza has disclosed.

Speaking at the 2015 employers’ forum on pension regulatory compliance in Abuja, Da-Souza explained that the purpose of the interactive session was to highlight, discuss and come up with solutions to the issues responsible for the delay in processing contributions received.

She said: “Our goal is to update our members’ Retirement Savings Accounts (RSAs) with all contributions remitted for them within 48 hours of receipt of the remittances and corresponding valid schedules. To achieve this goal, Trustfund is poise to ensure prompt crediting of all RSAs; timely printing and delivery of statement of accounts; resolution of all customers’ complaints within 48 hours and strict compliance with provisions of Pencom Reform Act 2004 and other guidelines, directives and circulars issued by Pencom.”
The Chief Compliance Officer of Trustfund, Mrs. Rachael Obi, said the inability of employers to credit the RSA holders’ account of employees as a result of legion of errors that come from the schedule of remittance remains a challenge.

Her words: “This has carried on over the years and as a result, moneys were not invested properly. And because moneys are not invested, account holders are not getting any return on their account because of the inability to invest. We have officials from companies that transfer money to PFAs without adequate information about who owns the money and what grade level of such a person. When those transfers take place, our Custodian, Zenith Custodian, notifies us of the payment but Trustfund is unable to credit because of inadequacy of schedules. This is why we think the desk officers who make these payments must be educated to know the information required when making transfers. Even when payments are made via physical instrument such as a cheque, such cheque (s) must be accompanied by a schedule with a clear narration of the beneficiaries and the summation of the total amount. There is a problem when there is a shortage or over the amount. Any of these will pose a challenge in the remittance process.”

On his part, Trustfund zonal Manager, North Central, Maurice Ogar, urged workers to embrace voluntary contribution that can be assessed any time contributor’s desire.

“Voluntary contribution is for everybody that has Retirement Saving Account (RSA) with a Pension Fund Administrator (PFA) under the contributory pension scheme. It is meant to increase pension contribution on an individual basis. The mandatory contribution is based on 18% with 8% from the employee while 10% comes from the employer. In addition to this, an individual on his or her own can have another contribution, which is kept separately from the RSA. Voluntary contribution is kept separately because the contributor can assess it any time while the RSA cannot be assessed until a worker is 50 years old or he or she has retired from work.”

He explained that if voluntary contribution is kept for five years without withdrawal, such withdrawal is done free of charge without tax but if withdrawal is made before five years maturity period, there will be a tax on the amount of income that has accrued on the contribution.
Oga explained that workers could fund the voluntary contribution by standing order on payment of additional amount every month from salary or direct payment of a fixed amount monthly or quarterly through payment to Pension custodian with notification to PFA of the payment for record of all payments.

While making clarification between programme withdrawal and life annuity, Oga stated that it is under programme withdrawal that payment of lump sum is possible.

“Most times when people go for annuity, they do so after they had been paid their lump sum. It is the balance in the account that they now use to procure life annuity. The Pension reform Act 2004 empowers both insurance firms and PFAs to sell different products to retirees. While the PFAs sell programme withdrawal, insurance firms sell life annuity to retirees. Pencom regulates the programme withdrawal while annuity is not regulated at all. Among the numerous advantages of programme withdrawal is that retirees continue to maintain an account, which ensure he can trace how his money is managed by the PFA. But under life annuity, the moment the product is bought, that is the end of the matter,” he said.

While admonishing workers to write their will in order to make payment of their pension easier for their beneficiaries after demise, Oga hinted that the obtaining letter of administration is difficult because it is susceptible to fraud.

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