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Federal Government targets $100b pension assets in 2034.
Nigeria’s pension assets are expected to exceed the $100 billion mark in the next two decades.
Coordinating Minister of the Economy and Minister of Finance, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, who gave this indication on Monday, also spoke of the need to encourage African countries to switch to contributory pension schemes.
She spoke at the opening of World Pension Summit in Abuja, which is taking place in Africa for the first time.
The minister noted that the continent was yet to fully harness the potentials of pension funds as a source of development.
She explained that pension assets are still around five per cent of GDP in most African countries, but noted that it was improving rapidly.
President Goodluck Jonathan, who welcomed the delegates from 54 African countries to Nigeria for the summit, also noted that globally efficient pension schemes occupy a strategic place in national socio-economic development.
According to him, “Investment in pension has a huge impact in the wellbeing of pensioners, society and indeed the economy at large.
“As such it is imperative that stakeholders in this life saving industry should engage constantly in dialogue to bolster management frameworks and practices in their respective jurisdictions”.
The President noted that the summit would afford participants to share experiences on individual African nations and draw from such knowledge to grow the industry on the continent.
He further explained that for Nigeria “the meeting is taking place at a time of pronounced transformation in all facets of our national lives”.
“In the pension sector, we have all also made appreciable progress in refining and implementing reforms on existing governance structures based on best global practices.
“In 2004, the Pension Reform Act was enacted by the Olusegun Obasanjo’s administration to address the recurrent challenges experienced in the administration of pension and enhance proficiency in the system.
“This reform initiative established the contributory pension scheme for the public and private sectors.
“In 10 years of sustained policy innovations and meticulous management has facilitated confidence and credibility in our pension system and administration.
“It also strengthened pension institutions as transited from a deficit of about N2 trillion (about $12.9 billion) in 2004 to accumulate pension assets of over N4.21 trillion (about $27.2 billion) by March this year,” Jonathan added.
He said government goal was to digitize payments and streamline payment procedures to ensure prompt and ease of payments of pension benefits.
Jonathan pointed out that government expects the National Pension Commission (PenCom) to put in place regulatory and supervisory framework to facilitate and accelerate the objectives of the reforms, especially the safety of pension assets to guarantee workers security in retirement.
The President emphasised that the “protection of pension assets for the payments of retirement benefits as and when due should always be our paramount objectives”.
And following complaints by Co-Chairman of the summit, Eric Eggink, on the hitches experienced by international travellers coming into Nigeria for the event, Jonathan directed the Coordinating Minister of the Economy, the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) Minister and the Aviation Minister to work together and ensure that construction begins next year on the second runway of the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja.
The President, however, explained that the hitches were a result of the resurfacing work on the existing runway at the airport.
He, therefore, directed the three key ministers to meet, insisting that work on “Abuja Airport second runway must commence next year”.
Jonathan apologised to the summit delegates who had suffered various inconveniences, including delays and having to land at nearby airports, owing to closure of the Abuja Airport by the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN).
“Let me express our own concerns about some of you who came in to Abuja over the weekend – as one of the co-founders mentioned the issues about the airport – because we are just trying to resurface the runway. I think it has got some problems.
“I think the Coordinating Minister of the Economy, Minister of FCT and Minister of Aviation must meet, and the Abuja second runway must commence next year”, the President said.
The Nnamdi Azikiwe Airport had similarly been shut last year for about 18 hours after a Saudi Arabian cargo aircraft veered off the runway while landing and ran into the maintenance area.
The incident had provoked calls for the construction of a second runway for the busy Abuja airport to forestall a recurrence.
According to FAAN, the airport with an average monthly passenger movement of over 10,000, is the nation’s second busiest after the Murtala Muhammed International Airport, Lagos.
Immediate past Minister of Aviation, Stella Oduah, had soon after then explained that the ministry was waiting “for the resources to be able to do the second runway”. DAILY INDEPENDENT.