Trustfund Pension Ltd held its South South 2018 Re-retiree Forum in Port Harcourt to update its customers in the zone on developments in the sector and also feel their pulse on services being rendered. Venue was Vinotel Hotel, Port Harcourt and date was Tuesday March 20, 2018.
Mr Peter Okonjo, regional manager Trustfund Pension South South took time off to speak to National Point, and a few other journalists at the venue. Below are excerpts from the interview.
Tell us about yourself Sir?
My name is Peter Okonjo. I am the regional manager South South of Trust Fund Pension Plc, including the Trust Fund Pension Limited.
Why are we here Sir?
We are here for the 2018 paid retiree and retiree fund. It is normally an annual event of Trust Fund Pension Limited. We use it to get across to our retirees and those about to retire. We want to inform them about the happenings in the pension industry, whatever they need to know during their retirement life.
So far how has it been like?
It is quite encouraging. You can see the crowd inside the hall. It is encouraging; we have been improving on it since we started. This year is greater than what we had last year.
What is the information that you passed to them that make them come?
It is what they need to know during their retirement days- how to live their life, what to expect from us; how we communicate so that if anything is happening to them, we will be able to communicate with them. To know their current data, know their update in case they are beneficiaries, their next of kin. We too live with them every day.
Do you think that this scheme is better for them than the insurance scheme?
Very well; like you saw in my presentation; you can see the differences in the Pension finance Administrators, PFAs and Insurance annuity complex. Even PenCom applies the differences. You can see in our own programme withdrawal outfit, when a retiree dies, everything in the account is given to the beneficiary whereas in the case of annuity, after the guaranteed 10 years, anything that remains is forfeited to the insurance company.
Can you say that the beauty lies in the transparency of this outfit?
You know the PTF is highly transparent. It is a tripartite arrangement with the National Pension Commission at the top, we the PFAs are the administrators and the licensed companies shall keep the assets of the companies to really perfect checks and balances. You cannot deliver a kobo payment without PenCom approval.
But why do people complain about delay in payment?
If you listened to my presentation so many reasons were given. Like I told you, payment is not approved by the PFA’s. It is approved by the National Pension Commission, Pencom; every kobo is accounted for by this pension commission. We make sure we don’t shortchange any pension retiree or any applicant. Again, assuming like in the public sector, if your bond was not delayed or has not been paid by the government, there is no where you can be paid.
There are also cases of unremitted contributions, excess remittance, and incomplete documentation. They are many things that make up delays. We must identify each of them like client’s familiarity index. You need to know who you are talking with…
A lot of retirees are crying all over the country, praying the scheme be abolished. What do you think is the problem with this system?
There is no problem with this system. Some people get it wrong. When people are talking of problem of pension system, it is not this system. This system will pay you your entitlement if everything is cleared, if all your documents are okay and intact. It doesn’t take up to maximum three weeks to get paid. There is no problem with this system, maybe you are talking of the old system.
But why are the retirees crying?
What I am telling you is, if you are a government worker, it may take a while because of the fund. It is all dependent on the PFA. Other ones like I said, when people get their statement, they should check, check if December is there, January is there, February, etc. Check and make an enquiry when you will have to come and apply because all these things have to be put in place. Government takes a while to remit contributions to PFAs because of bond. That is why you have to check your statement.
Would there be a law that will force the government or employer to remit what has been deducted. Do we need such a law in the country?
PenCom is working on it. PenCom is going on a recovery to employers to pay up. It is like fraud against employees.
Let’s look at the South South now. How effective has it been? How are they enjoying the benefit of this scheme?
They are if they are not, they would not be here. Go to our offices, you see the number of people coming there. We are part of the few PFAs that manage Rivers State government.
It seems they were lot of confusion when you were explaining voluntary contribution. It doesn’t seem to have been well understood; throw some light please.
Voluntary contribution is that part, one of the enhancements that National Pension Commission brought about for customers to have access any time. Even if you leave it for up to five years, there will not be any charge on it. PenCom found out that people are complaining, dodging of tax and PenCom wants to put an end to it.
It is supposed to be what you put in for the future. It may be used for a project- maybe you are planning for your son’s wedding, say in five years’ time or your daughter’s wedding.
What is your general message to retirees and those about to retire?
We are always there to serve them. We are growing by day; we are improving by the day for them. They should bank on us. Trustfund is the main leading PFA in the country. They count on us, we will never fail them.
How are women favoured? You said 22 years for men and 18 years for women?
It is scientifically proven that women outlive men. It is not me that said it. It is science that said it.
And how does it apply to this system?
Yes, because in our programme withdrawal, we give you a lump sum, you will only spread your money to money pensions, and that lump sum will be 25 percent to 49.99 percent the balance comes as monthly pension. But that lump sum change based on some certain variables- RSA balance, final salaries, length of service, gender (whether male or female). It has been found out that women live more than men. It is done so for women. Their own is 22 years while for men it is 18 years. That is how it operates. It is scientifically based. It is a calculation, once you shut in this thing, it will state these things and lump sum will come up.
There was a concern expressed by a participant on changing jobs. You talked about remittance and the man asked the question that if he works, giving his remittance from one company in one year and moves to another where he is on probation for six months would that affect the scheme?
Every money he remits would be paid to him. Wherever you go, just put in your new pay roll money into your account and tell your employers, ‘Oga, this is my pension pin for the Trust Fund’. It is the same account. No money would stray even when it comes from the letters of disengagement to that of engagement.
You talked about increase in the number of members can you give us a figure?
Everyday our marketing team is outside, marketing and registering customers. We are compliant; we just don’t go and register anyone. We have fresh workers straight from the university. We have over 50,000 customers.
Thank you sir
Thank you too.