NSITF begins prosecution of workers’ scheme defaulters

Ismail Agaka

Ismail Agaka

Ngige orders payment of allowances to staff

The Nigeria Social Insurance Trust Fund (NSITF) has perfected plans to begin the prosecution of employers that are yet to enroll their workers on the Employees Compensation Scheme (ECS).

The Acting Managing Director of the Fund, Ismail Agaka, who disclosed this while welcoming the Minister of Labour and Employment, Dr. Chris Ngige, to the NSITF Lagos regional office, explained that only employers that have genuine reasons not to comply just yet would be given an extended period to comply.
He added: “Whoever is defaulting is liable and would be prosecuted in the law courts. The law is very clear about the punishment for defaulting. It is our responsibility to prosecute those who are not willing to comply without any genuine cause. There are other ways of dealing with those who are unable to comply genuinely. We will go after those who feel that they can go about their businesses without complying. But before we prosecute, defaulters would be given another opportunity by reminding them of their obligations and penalties that are prescribed for non-compliance and that they would be prosecuted if they do not comply after the expiration of the extended period.”

The NSITF Acting boss was quick to add that granting of grace period to employers that are yet to register would not be applied across board, saying, “we will take the matter up case by case because not every employer or company would have the same reason for not complying. We will treat each case on its merit. We found out that some employers are genuinely defaulting because they are facing very hard times. It will make little sense to treat an employer that cannot pay salaries regularly with those that can pay and are paying regularly. Their experiences are not the same thing. We plan to work out an exit strategies for employers that have genuine challenges in their operations. But for others who have no such encumbrance, the full weight of the law would take its course.”

Agaka stressed that the ministerial directive to increase the number of employers to 50,000 by the Minister would be pursued within the prevailing economic realities in the country.

“The mandate to increase the number of employers on the scheme to 50,000 before the end of the year will be taken in tandem with the reigning economic realities prevailing in our country today. We have given marching orders to our staff to go after companies and employers who ought to have registered but have failed to do so. In carrying out the prosecution of the defaulting companies, we have to do that within the economic outlook of the country,” he said.

He hinted that in order to increase the number of employers and companies on the scheme, NSITF would soon be visiting the Nigeria Employers Consultative Association (NECA), NACCIMA, Lagos Chamber of Commerce and other organized private sector in order to use them as entry points to reaching employers.

Agaka added: “As umbrella bodies these organizations know how to tap into their constituencies. I will be paying a visit to these organizations very soon to sketch out a working alliance with them on how to widen participation by employers of labour in the Employees Compensation Scheme (ECS).”

The NSITF Acting identified low awareness of the scheme among the critical stakeholders as the major challenge confronting the implementation of ECS.

His words: “One of our major problems is that awareness is low amongst Nigerians on the existence of the scheme. That is why we are engaging relevant trade associations and guilds to also help enlighten their members on existence of the scheme as well as they obligations of all employers. We also have recalcitrant employers that feel they the scheme is not for them.”

Speaking during the visit, the Ngige observed that registering only 9,400 employers by the Lagos regional office is abysmally low saying the office has the capacity to achieve 100,000 target before the end of the year.

While decrying lack of electricity to make the environment conducive and boost productivity, Ngige ordered the management to acquire one 100 KVA generating set which was promptly delivered to the premises within 24 hours after the order was given.

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