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1.1 BACKGROUND OF THE STUDY
Prior to the enactment of the Pension Reform Act (2004), Pension Schemes in Nigeria had been bedeviled by many problems. The public service operated and unfounded defined benefits scheme and the payment of retirement benefits were budgeted annually. The annual budgetary allocation for pensions was often one of the most vulnerable items in budget implementation in the light of resources constraints. In many cases, even where budgetary provisions were made, inadequate and untimely release of founds resulted in delays and accumulation of arrears of payment of pension right. It was obvious therefore that the defined benefits scheme could not be sustained (Pension, 2007).
In the private sector on the other hand, many employees were not covered by the pension schemes put in place by their employers and many of these schemes were not founded. Besides, where the schemes were funded, the management of the pension funds were full of malpractices between the fund managers and the trustees of the pension funds (Pencom, 2007).
This scenario necessitated a re-think of pension administration in Nigeria. Accordingly, the pension was initiated in order to address and eliminate the problems associated with pension schemes in the country. The out come of the reform was the enactment into law of the Pension Reform Act. 2004. (Pen com, 2007).
The pension reform programme is governed by the key principles of sustainability, safety and security of benefits, transparency, accountability, equality, flexibility, inclusively, uniformity and
practicability (Pencom, 2007).
The pension Reform Act 2004, established the National Pension Commission (Pencom). As the body to regulate, supervise and ensure the effective administration of pension matters in Nigeria. It licenses, regulates and supervises pension operation of Ppension Fund Administrators (PF A), Pension Fund Custodians (PFCs), Closed Ppension Fund Administrators (CPFAs), existing schemes that are approved to
continue by the commission and any other pension related institutions (Economic Confidential, Dec., 2007).
This study will give an insight to the new Pension Reform Act 2004, evaluate the effect of the contributory Pension Scheme on the Nigerian Public. The study will also look at the roles of key players in the new pension reform and assesses their contribution towards the development to the pension industry. Lastly, the study will provide an alternative approach to the new pension system in Nigeria.
1.2 STATEMENT OF THE PROBLEM
In line with the same policies adopted every where, the Nigerian government has introduced a new pension scheme, which amounts to privatization of pensions. Workers will no longer pay into a State
Pension Fund. Now they will depend on private funds that supposedly will make the money grow by investing it in stocks, shares and other speculative activities. What is worse is that if any of these funds collapse, the government provides no guarantee.
The new pension reform seems to be another anti-worker policy of the government, where the future of the workers is now openly tied to the whims and caprices of a series of emergency investors. These so - called Pension Fund Administrators and custodians have been licensed by the government to collect compulsorily a substantial percentage of workers' salary every month which can be spent or invested in other ventures as the administrators so desire.
The new Pension Reform Act of 2004 is one of the numerous 'reforms' pushed through in 2004 to reduce government expenditure on the social welfare of the populace. The philosophy here is to allow the government to shelve a major social responsibility of catering for its workforce after retirement in the form of gratuity and pension payments.
Before now, the positions of things in the workplaces were in two forms, depending on which establishment the workers belong, that is, either the private or public sector. The situation in the public sector of the pre existing pension scheme is that a civil servant or worker working for the government will collect a certain amount of money worked out as gratuity depending on the number of years put into service. The gratuity is expected to be paid immediately the worker stops working. Pensions are also paid immediately on a monthly basis if the worker is of the "pensionable" age.
The situation in the private sector is different to what is obtained in the public sector. Here, what the worker collects at the end of his/her working life with the company is of a contributory format. The worker contributes a pre-defined percentage of the monthly basic salary to the pension fund and the employer also contributes as related percentage of the worker's basic salary to the pension fund.
The worker will then collect the total contribution at the end of the work life with the company. The Act now makes it mandatory for all workers to pay 7.5% of their salary to the pension funds, the employer is also expected to contribute another 7.5% equivalent of the worker's basic salary to the monthly contribution.
The reality is that for the workers in the private sector, it immediately translates into the workers getting less pay than what they are getting previously. The previous contribution used to be 4% but now it has almost doubled to 7.5%. in the salary of the workers.
Whereas, the new situation is almost anti-worker in the public sector. Here the employer, which is government at all levels, is being relieved of a major social responsibility of caring for its workers after retirement. Now the government workers must cough up 7.5% of their salary every month as a contribution to the pension fund.
To the workers in the public sector, the new situation as per pension contribution is a double blow. This is because, lifelong pension and gratuity is the only thing each worker probably still looks to as a mild compensation for the very poor salary package they are presently receiving as wages. To now say that they have to contribute for their pension, which will also not last till they die, from their present meager salary is most uncaring and callous.
Another fact is that the present contributory pension scheme is not guaranteed by the government. In the final analysis, it is not different from any other savings in the bank. In order word, if the pension fund administrator and pension fund custodians should collapse, the pension fund under their care also collapse. That is the real situation and this is why the government is saying that if this should happen, it is the workers liability because it is the worker's free will to choose his/her own Pension Fund Administrator (PF A).
This study will explain the operation of the new reform and also urge the public to be extra careful with the operation of the new reform. The study will also proffer an alterative approach to the reform should the current reform failed.
1.3 OBJECTIVES OF THE STUDY
The research is set to evaluate the performance of the Pension Reform Act 2004 while the specific objectives are to:
i. Examine the effect of the new pension reform in Nigeria since 2004 to 2008 on the pension fund administration. In this case, a fragmented PA YGO Pension system was replaced by a mandatory private funded pension system.
ii. To examine the reasons why reform was seen as essential, the way in which it was carried through, and the manner of operation of the new system in terms of both coverage, entitlement and regulation.
iii. To assesses the new reformed pension system in terms of its contributions to the economic development of Nigeria.
iv. To highlights the implementation efforts and the challenges of the new pension reform
v. To discuss governance problems and suggest or proffer solutions to the problems.
1.4 RESEARCH QUESTIONS
The Pension Reform Act 2004 came into being to solve the administrative, technical and other lapses in the former defined pension procedure. It is in light of this that the researcher wishes to scientifically answer the following research questions.
i. What is the impact of Pension Reform Act 2004 on the Nigerian Public?
ii. Is the pension commission up to the task of meeting the set objectives of the reform?
iii. Are the beneficiaries of the reform fully aware of its provisions?
iv. What are the effects of 7.5% deduction from the monthly payment?
v. Are the techniques used by the pension administrators adequate in ensuring that payment is not just enough but is paid on time?
vi. Are fund custodians reliable institutions for the safekeeping of contributions?
vii. Are the contributed funds helping the economic development of
viii. What are the possible obstacles of the reform?
1.5 STATEMENT OF THE HYPOTHESES
To effectively carry out this research, the following hypothesis is being proposed.
Ho: Pension Reform Act 2004 will impact natively on the lives of retirees and economic growth in Nigeria.
H1: Pension Reform Act, 2004 will impact positively on the lives of retirees and economic growth in Nigeria.
1.6 SIGNIFICANCE OF THE STUDY
This research is aimed at evaluating the impact of contributory pension scheme on the public and its significance to the government. The study will also assist in assessing the effects of the contribution made by the employers of labour and employees in their well being and existence, so that fiscal planning will be geared towards correcting any lapses.
The study will help the general public to know the various legislation on person and thus assist them to take advantage of the provision. This research will also contribute to knowledge as it is aimed at the critical evaluation of the silent effects of contributory pension scheme operation in Nigeria.
1.7 SCOPE OF THE STUDY
This research focuses its attention on the financial, administration, managerial and technical implication of the Pension Reform Act 2004 covering year 2005 - 2008 only.
1.8 LIMITATION OF THE STUDY
Contributory pension, not being a popular research area In the past, creates the problem of inadequate relevant texts and publications for this study.
Also management of organizations are not very kin on disclosing their financial records. Another limitation of this research is that, the researcher does not intend to visit all the states of the federation.
1.9 DEFINITION OF OPERATIONAL TERMS
PENSION: Udeze (2006), it is a form of deferred compensation of a workers, a retirement plan to provide and secure income for old age.
REFORM: Means to make something better by correcting or making improvements (Oxford Advanced Leamer's Dictionary). A reform is an improvement made upon a system or changes made or improvement (Wowo, 2004).
PENCOM: This is a new organization established as part of the reforms of the government (Ahmad, 2006). This organization approve, license and supervise PF A, PFC and other institutions relating to pension matters.
PENSION REFORM ACT: It is an act meant to ensure that employees whenever they retire from service, have something to fall back on. It ensures that every employee received his or her retirement benefits as at when due (Pencom, 2006).
FULLY FUNDED: A fully funded pension scheme exists where pension funds and assets match pension liabilities at any given time (Penman Pension, 2006).
NEW PENSION SCHEME: The new pension scheme is a contributory, fully funded, privately managed scheme with third party custody of the pension fund assets based on retirement savings account for each contributor (Penman Pension, 2006).
CPFA: Means closed Pension Fund (Administrator. Any employer managing its pension scheme existing before the enactment of the Pension Reform Act 2004, may be subjected to certain conditions, apply to Pencom to be licensed as a CPF A (Penman Pension, 2006).
PROGRAMMED WITHDRAWAL: Is a method by which the employee collects his retirement benefits in periodic sums spread throughout an estimated life span (Penman Pension, 2006).
ANNUITY: An annuity is an income from approved life insurance company which provides monthly or quarterly income to the retiree during his/her life time (Penman Pension 2006).
1.10 PLAN OF THE STUDY
This research plans to achieve the objectives of this study through five chapters as follows:
Chapter one, as seen above has introduced the topic and systematically explained the nature of the problems. Chapter two will try to reveal available information, text and publication on relevant laws, theories, method and history of pension and contributory pension. Chapter three will deal with research methodology. The method and techniques of data collection and analysis to be used by the researcher will discussed. Chapter four will analyses the research findings and test all the relevant hypotheses. Chapter five will summarize the entire research work and draw conclusion based on the findings and this will be followed by the necessary recommendations.
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