- Pension Reform Act Has Enhanced Labour Market Flexibility
Lagos State Governor, Akinwunmi Ambode, has said that the provisions of the Pension Reform Act 2004, amended in 2014, has no doubt encouraged labour market flexibility and saved pensioners the dilemma of hanging their fortunes at the mercy of employers.
Ambode, made this observation, while speaking on the state’s full commitment to pension reforms at the opening session of a training programme for officers of the Lagos State Pension Commission(LASPEC) and public servants in the state.
Ambode, who was represented at the training titled, ‘Implications of the PRA 2004’ by Commissioner, Lagos State Ministry of Establishments, Training and Pensions, Dr. Akintola Benson, said the training was targeted at ensuring that the officers of LASPEC effectively discharge their duties and the generality of the public service adequately prepare for the future.
He stated that the general benefits of the Act as implemented in Lagos State, has boosted the welfare status of workers and pensioners in the state.
He observed that it has allowed the maintenance of a Retirement Savings Account (RSA) by each employee, which gives the workers responsibility over their retirement savings.
“Pensioners on the other hand, will no longer be at the mercy of employer, workers could choose how to allocate their retirement savings and diversify their investments over a range of investment instruments. It has been argued that personal accounts would provide all workers a higher rate of return than can be paid under the Direct Benefit plan, this approach affords participants an opportunity to pass wealth to survivors in the event of death”, he sated.
According to him, RSA, maintained by millions of workers, tends to generate massive long-term funds, which are available for investment.
He said given the economies of scale, the cost of investing such funds tends to be relatively lower than if individual workers were to undertake the investment on their own account.
He said having a pension scheme that pays out benefits in the form of a life annuity, benefits workers with protection against longevity risk, by pooling mortality risk across others.
“On a holistic note, the provisions of the law encourage labour market flexibility. The worker is free to move with his or her account as he or she moves to another place of employment and or residence. In this way, it is an important tool for enabling workers and employers to adapt to changing circumstances especially in a global environment in which change is a constant aspect of social and economic life,” he observed.
He said on its part,government, also stands to enjoy benefits under the law, adding that the law will stem further growth of pension obligations and provide a platform for addressing this liability.
According to him, it will also impose fiscal discipline in the budgetary process because pension obligations would be accurately determined, adding that the health of the economy is always a major concern of the government.
Ambode also said that aside the law’s potential to promote national savings and by implication, economic growth, funded pension schemes have the capacity to promote capital market development. adding,it is often argued that funded schemes have the capacity to promote economic reforms generally.
He said another area in which the government stands to benefit from the law is through the scheme’s ability to support the overall macroeconomic policies of reform.
He commended the work of the Lagos State Government on pension matters so far, maintaining that the 38th presentation of Retirement Benefit Bond Certificates to retirees under the Contributory Pension Scheme (CPS) created Section 3 of the Lagos State Contributory Pension Scheme law of 2007 (hereinafter referred to as “the Law”).
He said the Lagos State Government, has been consistently winning the National Pension Commission’s award for the Best Pensions Compliant State in the Federation adding that the state s determined to maintain this rating by continuing and improving on the timely payment of all pensions and other applicable benefits to our retiring workers upon disengagement from service.”
He said that in spite of the onerous funding obligations under the CPS, the administration of Governor Ambode has been dogged in meeting the funding obligations.
“The State Government has never failed to remit monthly contributions into the RSA of workers and, as at March, 2017, about N78,592 billion had been credited into employees’ acounts maintained by our 10 Pension Fund Administrators(PFAs). It has also been consistent in setting aside funds for the payment of accrued rights as provided for in the Pension Reform Law such that the State government has paid accrued pension rights of about N61 billion since the commencement of the Retirement Benefit Bond Certificate Presentations in 2010.”
As at today, a total number of 339 retirees will have their RSA credited with accrued pension rights of N1.6 billion, made up of gratuity and pension benefits under the Defined Benefit scheme for employees who transited into the Defined Contributory Scheme, he said.
Eat’N’Go Expands To East Africa, Projects 180 Stores By Year End
In a bid to further extend its tentacles beyond the West African market, Eat’N’Go limited, one of the leading Quick Service Restaurant (QSR) operators in Nigeria and master franchisee for world-class food brands – Domino’s Pizza, Cold Stone Creamery, and Pinkberry Gourmet Frozen Yoghurt, announced its expansion into the East African market.
This development comes after the successful acquisition of the franchisee which operated Cold Stone Creamery and Domino’s Pizza in Kenya. This acquisition will see Eat’N’Go limited become the largest Domino’s pizza and Cold Stone Creamery Master Franchisee in Africa with operations in Nigeria and Kenya.
Since its entrance to Nigeria in 2012, the QSR company has grown exponentially and has continuously nurtured the drive to extend its footprint across the African market. This acquisition provides them their first foreign market expansion, making them a Pan African company with a total number of 147 outlets across Africa and a projection to reach 180 stores by end of 2021.
Group Chief Executive Officer and Managing Director Eat’N’Go Limited, Patrick McMichael said that expanding into East Africa represents a very exciting time in the growth of the organization and also a strategic investment for the firm and its stakeholders. “Over the years, we have fostered the mission to not just bring the best QSR brands to Africa, but to directly impact on Africa’s economy and we are glad we are finally on the way to making this happen. Studying the growth of the Kenyan market in the last couple of years, we are convinced that now is the time to extend our footprint into the country.”
“We are very thrilled about this expansion as this move avails us more opportunity to provide Jobs to more Africans, especially in times like this. We remain thankful to all our customers, partners, and stakeholders who have supported us this far and we are more than ready to strengthen our dedication in satisfying the needs of our customers” Patrick added.
Eat’N’Go has over the years maintained its position as the leading food franchisee in Nigeria. As it expands its presence to other parts of Africa, the organization also places a strong focus on the quality of its products and services of all its three brands. The expansion to this new region is in line with the company’s plan to reach 180 stores across Africa by the end of 2021.
The milestone achievement and development will better position the company in its contribution to Nigeria and Africa’s economy. Currently home to over 3000 staff members across Africa, the company is committed to continuously provide job and business opportunities across the continent.
Eat’N’Go launched in 2012 in Nigeria with the vision to become the premier food operator in Africa. Today, the company has over 147 stores in Nigeria and Kenya and it continues to deliver on this promise by successfully rolling out the globally recognised brands Cold Stone Creamery and Domino’s Pizza across Africa. The company continues to expand its presence in key markets by fusing company goals with new strategic development goals and is projected to reach 180 stores across Africa by end of 2021.
Shoprite Exit: LCCI Explains Challenges Hurting Business Operations in Nigeria
Following the recent announcement of Shoprite, a leading South Africa retail giant, that it is leaving the Nigerian market due to harsh business environment and tough business policies, Dr Muda Yusuf, the Director-General, Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI) has explained some of the challenges responsible for such decision despite Nigeria’s huge population size.
Yusuf said while such decision is negative for the Nigerian economy, several factors like harsh business environment could have forced the company to make such decision. He said it also could be due to intense competitive pressure.
He said, “Shoprite is an international brand with presence in 14 African countries and about 3,000 stores. The comparative analysis of returns on investment in these countries may have informed the decision to exit the Nigeria market.
“The opportunities for retail business in Nigeria is immense. But the competition in the sector is also very intense.
“There are departmental stores in practically every neighbourhood in our urban centres around the country. There is also a strong informal sector presence in the retail sector. It is a very competitive space.”
According to the Director-General, there are also important investment climate issues that constitute downside risks to big stores like Shoprite.
He said, “These include the trade policy environment, which imposes strict restrictions on imports; the regulatory environment, which is characterised by a multitude of regulators making endless demands.
“There is also the foreign exchange policy, which has made imports and remittances difficult for foreign investors. There are challenges of infrastructure which put pressures on costs and erodes profit margins.”
The LCCI boss added, “But we need to stress that Shoprite is only divesting and selling its shares; Shoprite as a brand will remain. I am sure there are many investors who will be quite delighted to take over the shares.
“It should be noted that there are other South African firms in Nigeria doing good business. We have MTN, Multichoice, Stanbic IBTC, and Standard Chartered Bank, among others. Some of them are making more money in Nigeria than in South Africa.”
He added that some sectors are more vulnerable to the challenges of the business environment than others.
Afrinvest Appoints Mrs. Onaghinon As COO
Afrinvest West Africa Limited, has appointed the former head of public private partnership agency of the Edo State, Mrs Onoise Onaghinon as its chief operating officer.
Onaghinon joined Afrinvest in 2003 as an analyst in the firm’s investment banking division, rising through the ranks to become an associate, then vice president and eventually executive director & head of investment banking.
She is a seasoned veteran in the Nigerian capital markets and investment landscape with over 18 years of experience in capital raising, mergers and acquisitions, and restructurings across many industries.
In 2017, Onaghinon took a sabbatical from the Firm to head the Public Private Partnership Agency of the Edo State Government. Having acquitted herself creditably in the public sector, she has rejoined the Firm to resume as the new COO.
Speaking on the appointment, group managing director of Afrinvest, Ike Chioke, said: “over the years, Onaghinon has demonstrated great leadership, professional excellence and outstanding client commitment in driving the firm’s business units, particularly our investment banking division. We are delighted to have her back and we look forward to leveraging her cross-disciplinary experience across the Afrinvest group”.
In her new role, Onaghinon will oversee human resources, legal & compliance, internal control and general services while leading the firm’s initiatives to improve efficiency across its subsidiaries.
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