44 BUSINESS DAY ABUJACITYBUSINESS COMPREHENSIVE COVERAGE OF NATION’S CAPITAL PenCom sensitizes prospective retirees on ease of accessing benefits HARRISON EDEH, Abuja National Pension Commission (Pen- Com) has carried out sensitisation awareness to prospective retirees on ease of accessing their retirement benefits from the Contributory Pension Scheme (CPS) under the Pension Reform Act, 2014. Prior to the reform, Public Sector operated Defined Benefit (DB) Scheme which was unfunded to the tune of N2.3 trillion pension liability as at 2004; marred by weak, inefficient and poor administration, prone to fraud and riddled with endless and painful annual physical verification of pensioners. On the other hand, the L-R: Ye Shuijin, president, China Chamber of Commerce in Nigeria (CCC); Chiedu Osakwe, chief trade negotiator/dg Nigerian Office for Trade Negotiations (NOTN), and Zhang Wenfeng, md/ceo, China Harbour Engineering Company Limited, during the presentation of Office Equipment/Items by the CCC to NOTN in Abuja. Pic by Tunde Adeniyi Private Sector pension was characterized by low coverage as most employers did not have pension arrangements and Retirement benefit under the NPF/NSITF scheme were very low. Section 4 of the Pension Reform Act 2014, stipulates the minimum rates of contributions of 10% and 8% for employers and employees respectively in both public and private sectors; monthly pension contributions in the core civil service are centrally deducted by the Office of the Accountant General of the Federation (OAGF) as advised by the Budget Office of the Federation based on budgeted total personnel costs with effect from July 2004. At a recent sensitisation meeting held in Kaduna, the officials of the National Pension Commission explained in a presentation made available to BusinessDay, requisite steps as well as the benefits of the contributory Pension scheme. According to the Commission, “Contributory Pension Scheme seeks to, amongst others, ensure that every worker receives his retirement benefits as and when due.” Also, retirement benefits administration is the last phase of the process/activities put place to achieve the above objectives of the Pension reform. The two models of withdrawal under the Contributory Pension scheme are: ‘Programmed withdrawal’ and the ‘Purchase of retiree life annuity. Besides, there are also benefits for the beneficiaries of a deceased contributor. Through the Programmed Withdrawal, beneficiaries are entitled to monthly pension of at least 50% of terminal monthly emolument subject to lumpsum taken and RSA balance may be enhanced at regular intervals subject to returns on investment; balance in RSA is re-invested by PFA for maximum growth and bequeaths inheritance if death occurs at any time. In the same vein, Retiree Life Annuity provides opportunity for retirees, access to a financial product offered by Insurance companies for a regular income in consideration for payment of premium from a retiree; regular pension payments for life so long as the retiree is alive. FCT Minister seeks National Assembly approval for N40.3bn priority budget LAIDE AKINBOADE-ORIERE Federal Capital Territory Administration (FCTA) has defended its 2018 National Priority Budget proposal of N40,297,122,872 before the Senate. Muhammad Bello, FCT Minister who presented the budget to the Senate Committee on Federal Capital Territory (FCT), at the National Assembly in Abuja, explained that the proposal was in accordance with the N40.3 billion envelope given to the FCT as its National Priority Budget by the Federal Ministry of Budget and National Planning. According to Bello, 27 critical infrastructure projects totalling N40,297,122.27 have been prioritized for action under the proposal. These include the B6, B12 and Circle roads traversing the National Stadium, Villa and back to the Stadium; the Greater Abuja Water Works project as well as the Extension of Inner Southern Expressway (ISEX) from the Central Bank/National Christian Centre to Galadimawa Roundabout. Provisions totalling N1.2 billion were also made for in infrastructure development at major satellite towns of Kubwa, Karshi and Bwari to help stave off the weight of expansion being witnessed in the city. In addition, major utilities and social services covering education, water supply as well as security at the UN building have been effectively provided for. The Minister disclosed that the N40.3 billion FCT 2018 Budget, is an improvement on the N30.4 billion that was allocated to the FCT for capital projects in 2017. H e s a i d N12,198,561,434.40 representing 40.1 percent of the total sum has so far been released and expended. He expressed his appreciation to the National Assembly for extending the window of expenditure for the 2017 Budget and stated that it will allow for more releases to be made to offset some critical infrastructural bills in the FCT. Bello disclosed that the FCTA is working to overcome the budget shortfall through its recently reconstituted FCT Internal Revenue Service. Speaking earlier, Dino Melaye, chairman, Senate Committee on FCT, lamented that the FCT National Priority Budget has declined from N109 billion in the recent past to N30.4 in 2017 and N40.3 billion in 2018. C002D5556 KEHINDE AKINTOLA, HARRISON EDEH & CYNTHIA EGBOBOH, Abuja The Organised Private Sector (OPS), Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC) and other key economic stakeholders want the Federal Government to prioritize enforcement of rules of Origin in the African Continental Free Trade Area Agreement (CFTA) saying that this is the only way the Nigerian economy could harvest the full benefit in the deal. They also tasked African Heads of States and Government on the need to fast-track provision of requisite infrastructure such as road, rail infrastructure that will aid interconnectivity of member states; protect local market and ensure that CFTA strictly include goods produced within the region as part of measures aimed at turning Africa into dumping ground. Speaking to Business- Day exclusively, Frank Jacobs, President of the Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (MAN) affirmed that the consultation initiated by Federal Government has been fruitful and took note of various concerns including enforcement of the rules of Origin and Market Access. “We hope that the committee that would harmonise the reports would reflect our submissions accordingly,” Jacobs noted. On his part, Tony Ejinkonye, Vice President of National Association of Commerce, Industry Mines and Agriculture (NACI- MA), told BusinessDay that: “In market access for instance, stakeholders have made their submissions to the government stating that products from African countries gaining market access must adhere to specified percentage (of local content) according to the CFTA. “In the case of Cement for instance, that must be certain percentage of the local content specifying that the local content and other materials making up the Cement are produced in Africa, otherwise there would be sanctions. This is what is meant by enforcement of the rules of Origin and Market Access so that there is no exploitation of local industry producers, hence they are well protected,” While giving update on the level of consultation with NLC, Ayuba Wabba, NLC President expressed optimism that the ongoing consultation on African Continental Free Trade Monday 16 April 2018 CFTA: OPS, NLC, MAN want FG to prioritize market access, enforcement of rules of Origin in CFTA deal Agreement will be beneficial and provide safeguard for Nigeria. Wabba who stated this in a chat with BusinessDay, maintained that the decision of Nigeria and South Africa as the largest economies in the continent to decline signing the agreement in Kigali, Kenya, was commendable as it provides opportunities for relevant stakeholders to make input into government policies and programmes. He observed that opening of borders for free flow of goods across African continent, should involve provision of relevant infrastructure and level playing ground for reciprocity, competition and products produced within African continent. “We saw that it was the voice of Esau but I think, the hands of Jacob. So clearly speaking, we said let us also make sure that we are able to protect our markets. Because there’s a push somewhere and we thought we should be able to expose that push but importantly, putting safeguards to make sure that Africa does not become a dumping ground for other countries because we have the population, we have what it takes and therefore we must work towards industrialisation of Africa. “If you look at Africa today, how many countries are into production that really we can be able to trade among African countries, even within West African sub-region? Clearly speaking, this is what we want, yes. Free trade agreement is good especially among African countries, but it must be done within the context of reciprocity and also within the fact that we are the same pedestal where Nigeria can be competitive. We can be able to also produce. “Two, is the issue of infrastructure of doing trade. Today, trade is being facilitated in all the European countries and other countries around them because they have infrastructure and there’s interconnectivity. For us, to move within West African countries is really is nightmare, sometimes you have to go to Europe before you can connect African countries. “The first thing is to put infrastructure in place that can be able to facilitate trade where countries have connecting roads and rails. For you to go to Cameroon from here, you know the difficulty it will take to arrive there, only going to Dakar.
Monday 16 April 2018 C002D5556 BUSINESS DAY 45