Pension: 187 Agencies Get N3.3bn Increment Arrears
By Mathew Dadiya, Abuja with Agency Reports
The Pension Transitional Arrangement Directorate (PTAD) has paid the sum of N3.366 billion to pensioners of 187 agencies.
According to PTAD, the payment covers six months of the outstanding arrears of the 33% pension increment for pensioners across five sectors: Education, Health, Other Public Sector Research Institute (OPSRI), Power, and Universities.
The directorate said that it has now offset 30 months arrears for pensioners in agencies across 5 sectors under Parastatals Pension Department (PaPD).
Daily Asset recalls that between June 2016 and December 2018, PTAD paid 24 months arrears to pensioners in these agencies.
At the time of its takeover of payment of Parastatals pension in 2015, the Directorate had inherited outstanding 33% pension increment liabilities from the various agencies.
PTAD further has assured that all arrears would be paid in due course.
This payment according to the agency, was in fulfilment of President Muhammadu Buhari’s promise to clear outstanding pension arrears for pensioners under the Defined Benefit Scheme.
Meanwhile, some insurance and pension experts have called on the Federal Government to urgently intervene in the raging issue of poor pension benefits being paid to some retirees of the Nigeria Police.
The experts made the call-in separate interviews with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Lagos on Sunday against the backdrop of recent demonstrations across the country by some police retirees.
The retirees, who are under the contributory pension scheme being managed by NPF Pensions Limited, alleged that they were shortchanged as they were paid as low as N2 million lump sum on retirement.
Oku Nana, the Chairman of Retired Police Officers Association (Under the Contributory Pension Scheme) in Lagos, said that some retired middle cadre officers in the police were paid as low as N3.5 million lump sum instead of N10 million paid to their mates in other agencies.
He said this was in gross violation of the provisions of the Pension Act of 2004.
The experts told NAN that the problem might be due to low savings in the officers’ Retirement Savings Accounts (RSA).
They alleged that their employer (The Nigeria Police) might not have made the mandatory counterpart contributions to their RSAs as required by law.
Mr Mufutau Oyegunle, an insurance and pension analyst in Lagos, said that the issue of unfounded account that the police retirees faced was not uncommon.
“It is not that the pension monies were not deducted from the retirees, but just that the monies were not remitted.
“So, zero account means zero returns on investment which affects gratuity,” he said.
Oyegunle said this could be one of the numerous challenges which the NPFPL inherited and was trying to correct.
He suggested a 300 per cent increase across board in the pension entitlements (lump sum and monthly pension) of the affected officers to assuage them.
“It is unjust for an officer who served meritoriously for 35 years to be paid N2 million gratuity upon retirement,” he said.
Dr Edgar Sunday, the Head of Service in Adamawa State, called for proper documentation of pension remittances.
“For example, how much was remitted, the year the money was remitted, the years the remittances covered and beneficiaries.
“We should know that fears of retirement is what is pushing some civil servants that are still in service into corruption,” he said.
Sunday advised President Mohammed Buhari to ensure that pension administrators at the national, state and local government levels manage pension funds in a manner that workers would look forward to retirement without apprehension.
“President Buhari must ensure that pension money diverted are recovered and forwarded to those retirees languishing,” he said.
Mr Leye Awoniyi, an insurance expert in Lagos, advised the Federal Government to devise a way of appropriately compensating the affected police retirees, saying that a labourer deserved his or her wage.
“It is not the fault of these retired police officers, but the system that has allowed this to happen. That a man worked for 35 years and he is not being paid his dues is unfair. The Federal Government must intervene and pay these officers appropriately,” he said.
Mr Otunba Arasi, the Acting Chairman of Federal Civil Service Pensioners in Lagos State, said “we don’t know who is fooling who.’’
“When we go to PTAD, they will tell us the Federal Government has not released money, while the Federal Government said they have released the money.
“We appeal to well mean Nigerians that whoever has President Buhari’s number to please give us,” he said.
Mr. Femi Olaosebikan, a serving police officer in Lagos, expressed fears that this situation would not affect him.
“Is it a crime to be a policeman in Nigeria. How can government stop corruption among us when we are not sure of our pension benefits?”
Experts Canvass Better Attention to Taxes, Untapped Minerals, others
By Gom Mirian, Abuja
Experts in the research and development sectors have called on the incoming administration to focus on the growth-enhancing sectors in the country rather than relying solely on revenues from crude oil to develop the economy.
The call was made in Abuja at a one-day Leadership and Development Policy Dialogue Series (LDPDS)organized by the African Centre for Leadership, Strategy and Development (Centre LSD)tagged: “Nigerian Debt Profile: Issues, implications, Lessons and Solutions for the Next Administration.
Director portfolio management department of the Debt Management Office (DMO), Mr Oladele Afolabi said there were a lot of linkages and shortfalls in the payment of taxes, especially by companies which is the reflection of the low revenue received in the country.
While urging the next administration to ensure blockage of these linkages, tasked the government to explore untapped mineral resources in the country to generate more revenue since the revenue obtained from crude oil is incapable of developing the economy.
Speaking at the dialogue, a professor of Economics at the University of Abuja, Isa Muhammad said Nigeria spends N97 of every N100 earned or produced on debt service.
According to professor Muhammad, the Nigerian debt service to income ratio has drastically increased from 17% to 97% in ten years (2012-2021).
He said the increase is extremely high compared to the World Bank’s recommended limit of no more than 22.5%.
He said: “In 2022, a deficit of N6. 26 trillion is anticipated as a result of all fiscal activities.
“Debt payment is anticipated to cost N3.61 trillion, with N292.71 billion coming from sinking funds to pay off maturing bonds.
“This is an alarming instance of revenue challenge that, if not handled properly, could result in a problem with the sustainability of debt”, he said.
Professor Muhammad called on the next administration to strengthen government finances, lower the fiscal deficit over time, and adopt revenue and expenditure reform steps in the medium term.
He also called on the next administration to move away from budget deficits as income collections increase.
Earlier in his remarks, the Executive Director of the Centre LSD, Mr Monday Osasah, said dialogue became imperative following the Federal Government (FG), the outcry that Nigeria’s debt sustainability has become threatened owing to the rise in its revenue shortfalls.
He said: “This revenue, unfortunately, is not matched by the high debt servicing burden of the country. According to the Minister of Finance, Nigeria is expected to spend 60% of its total revenue on debt servicing in 2023.
Also, the Head of the National Bureau of Statistics(NBS), Dr Anthony Ayo urged the next administration to step down on the ‘debt-to-GDP ratio as a method of measuring debt sustainability but rather than adopt the ‘revenue-to-GDP approach to achieve effective results.
Mr Osasah said these assertions portend a grave threat to the Nigerian economy, as this depletes the resources available for other national developmental priorities.
He said the dialogue, therefore, presents an opportunity for stakeholders to have a shared understanding of the issues, implications, lessons, and solutions, as well as make recommendations for the next Administration.
Afreximbank Budgets $350,000 for Nigeria Inland Waterways Development
By Tony Obiechina, Abuja
African Export-Import Bank (Afreximbank) in its role as a systemically important and market-failure bank for Africa, has provided a grant of US$350,000 and leveraged on its partnership with the Nigerian Export-Import Bank (NEXIM), the Federal Ministry of Transportation and the Nigerian Navy to facilitate the movement of goods using navigable waterways in Nigeria.
In this regard, a major milestone in the quest to unlock the huge potentials in transportation on Nigeria’s inland waterways was recorded on Tuesday 16th March 2023 with the unveiling of the Navigational Charts of the Lower River Niger by the Honorable Minister for Transportation, Mr.Mu’azu Jaji Sambo supported by, the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Mr. Boss Mustapha.
The Charting project was made possible by the grant from Afreximbank in recognition of the importance of inland waterways transportation and by extension, coastal waterways transportation, to its mandate of promoting Intra-African trade.
Speaking at the event, the Minister of Transportation, Mr. Mu’azu Jaji Sambo, hailed the support from Afreximbank through the grant and reiterated the importance of water transportation as the most environmentally friendly mode of transportation with significant economic benefits, citing the example of the United States of America where 60% of agricultural produce are moved through inland waterways.
He commended the efforts of all the parties involved in the activity and made commitment to progressing the subsequent activities involved to make the movement of goods on the lower River Niger from the hinterlands to the coastal lands possible.
Afreximbank was represented at the event by Mr. Remigius Nwachukwu, Manager Trade Finance, Anglophone West Africa, who commended the leadership and vision of Prof. Benedict Oramah, President and Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Afreximbank towards the realization of this project which falls clearly within the ambit of the mandate of Afreximbank in promoting, facilitating and financing intra- and extra-African trade.
Afreximbank also noted that existing African infrastructure was designed to carry African commodities to the global markets and not to facilitate intra-African trade. In this context, Afreximbank decided to support the development of the maritime sector including inland waterways to ensure that there are efficient and cost-effective routes to facilitate intra-African trade under the African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA).
The launch of the navigational charts is following a Maritime Survey and Charting Project executed by the Sealink Consortium in collaboration with the Nigerian Navy, Nigeria Inland Waterways Authority (NIWA) and Neximbank which was financed through the grant from Afreximbank. The Navigational Charting was undertaken by a wholly indigenous team from the Nigerian Navy and NIWA.
The Regional Sealink Project is a trade facilitation initiative designed to bridge critical logistics infrastructure gap toward facilitating and deepening inland and intra-coastal waterways operations. The charts provide information on navigable and restricted areas of the river channel as well as serve as a springboard to attaining a fully developed navigable channel.
The Charting covered a distance of 456 km from Jamata, Lokoja to Burutu and have been approved by the International Centre for Electronic Navigational Charts having met International Hydrographic Organization’s standards.
Although some more work like dredging and removal of identified wrecks are still expected to be done on the channel, navigational activities can commence with the use of the Charts which Mariners can obtain from the International Centre for Electronic Navigational Charts either in hard copy or electronic form.
FAAC Shares N722.677bn February Revenue to FG, States, LGCs
By Tony Obiechina, Abuja
The Federation Account Allocation Committee (FAAC) has shared a total sum of N722.677 billion February 2023 Federation Account Revenue to the Federal Government, States and Local Government Councils.
This was contained in a communiqué issued at the end of the Federation Account Allocation Committee (FAAC) meeting for on Wednesday and made available in a statement signed by Mr Bawa Mokwa, Director of Press & Public Relations, Office of Accountant General of the Federation (OAGF).
The N722.677 billion total distributable revenue comprised distributable statutory revenue of N366.800 billion, distributable Value Added Tax (VAT) revenue of N224. 232 billion, Electronic Money Transfer Levy (EMTL) of N11.645 billion and N120.000 billion Augmentation from Forex Equalisation Account.
In February 2023,, the total deductions for cost of collection was N27.449 billion and total deductions for transfers, savings, recoveries and refunds was N109.909 billion.
The balance in the Excess Crude Account (ECA) was $473,754.57
The communiqué confirmed that from the total distributable revenue of N722.677 billion; the Federal Government received N269.063 billion, the State Governments received N236.464 billion and the Local Government Councils received N173.936 billion. A total sum of N43.214 billion was shared to the relevant States as 13% derivation revenue.
Gross statutory revenue of N487.106 billion was received for the month of February 2023. This was lower than the sum of N653.704 billion received in the previous month by N166.598 billion.
From the N366.800 billion distributable statutory revenue, the Federal Government received N178.683 billion, the State Governments received N90.630 billion and the Local Government Councils received N69.872 billion. The sum of N27.614 billion was shared to the relevant States as 13% derivation revenue.
For the month of February 2023,, the gross revenue available from the Value Added Tax (VAT) was N240.799 billion This was lower than the N250.009 billion available in the month of January 2023 by N9.210 billion.
The Federal Government received N33.635 billion, the State Governments received N112.116 billion and the Local Government Councils received N78.481 billion from the N224.232 billion distributable Value Added Tax (VAT) revenue.
The N11.645 billion Electronic Money Transfer Levy (EMTL) was distributed as follows: the Federal Government received N1.747 billion, the State Governments received N5.822 billion, and the Local Government Councils received N4.076 billion.
From the N120.000 billion Augmentation, the Federal Government received N54.998 billion, the State Governments received N27.896 billion, the Local Government Councils received N21.506 billion and a total sum of N15.600 billion was shared to the relevant Sates as 13% mineral revenue.
According to the communiqué, in the month of February 2023, Petroleum Profit Tax (PPT), Companies Income Tax (CIT), Oil and Gas Royalties, Import and Excise Duties all decreased significantly while Value Added Tax (VAT) and Electronic Money Transfer Levy (EMTL) decreased marginally.
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