- PenCom to Increase Retirees’ Pensions this Month
The National Pension Commission has said it will raise the pensions of retirees who opt for programmed withdrawal and are being paid by the Pension Fund Administrators this month.
The Acting Director-General, National Pension Commission, Aisha Dahir-Umar, said this when the commission submitted a memorandum to the Senate Committee on Establishment and Public Service at the public hearing on a bill for an Act to amend the Pension Reform Act, 2014, to provide for definite percentage a retiree can withdraw from his Retirement Savings Accounts and for other matters related thereto.
She, however, stated that some retirees would not be entitled to the increase due to low balances in their RSAs.
Dahir-Umar said, “Indeed, the commission has just concluded an exercise to increase the monthly pension of all retirees on programmed withdrawal due to the income earned on investing their pension assets.
“The outcome of this exercise showed that 30 per cent of the retirees would not benefit from the increase due to insignificant income earned on the small balances in their respective RSAs.”
The commission faulted the proposal for the payment of 75 per cent of the balance in the RSAs as lump sums to retirees.
It added that the proposed amendment would mean leaving only 25 per cent to be spread over the retirees’ lifespan, which might be longer than 20 years, and that this would mean giving them a meagre monthly pensions below the current replacement ratio of a minimum of 50 per cent of the last pay.
The commission said it was doubtful if the 25 per cent balance in a retiree’s RSA, after deduction of the 75 per cent lump sum, would, if spread through the retiree’s expected life span, be adequate to reasonably cater for his livelihood during old age.
“This proposal is never the case in all jurisdictions operating the Contributory Pension Scheme the world over,” Dahir-Umar stated.
Another implication of this proposal, she added, was that in the near future, there would be huge cries for the government to provide more funds for pension payment to augment the meagre amounts to be taken as monthly stipends if the proposed bill sails through.
IBEDC Disconnects UCH Over N500m Debt, Critical Services Affected
The University College Hospital (UCH) in Ibadan, Oyo State, experienced a disruption in its power supply after the Ibadan Electricity Distribution Company (IBEDC) disconnected the hospital over a debt amounting to N500 million.
Dr. Jesse Otegbayo, the Chief Medical Director of UCH, confirmed the disconnection but refrained from elaborating on the exact cause.
IBEDC’s spokesperson, Busolami Tunwase, acknowledged the outstanding debt owed by UCH but denied that the disconnection was intentional.
Tunwase stated that while UCH owed the substantial amount, the power outage was due to a technical fault in the area, coinciding with the debt situation.
Despite repeated attempts to engage UCH in discussions to settle the debt, IBEDC had resorted to disconnection as a last resort.
The disconnection poses significant challenges to UCH’s critical services, affecting patient care and hospital operations.
While IBEDC emphasized its understanding of the hospital’s importance and commitment to resolving the issue amicably, the situation underscores the financial strains faced by healthcare institutions and the essential need for reliable power supply.
Efforts to negotiate and find a resolution between UCH and IBEDC are ongoing to restore normal operations and ensure uninterrupted healthcare services.
Oil and Gas Dealers Threaten Withdrawal as 70% of Downstream Businesses Collapse
The downstream oil sector in Nigeria faces a looming crisis as oil and gas dealers, represented by the Natural Oil and Gas Suppliers Association of Nigeria (NOGASA), issue a stern warning of potential service withdrawal.
In a recent resolution following their executive committee meeting in Abuja, NOGASA expressed grave concerns over the collapse of approximately 70% of businesses in the industry due to the harsh operating environment.
President of NOGASA, Benneth Korie, highlighted the dire situation, emphasizing the challenges faced by oil marketers in funding operations amidst soaring bank interest rates.
Korie underscored the overwhelming burden faced by operators who are compelled to acquire funds at exorbitant interest rates upwards of 30%, exacerbating financial strain and hindering business viability.
The primary demand voiced by NOGASA is the pegging of the foreign exchange rate at N750/$ to facilitate refinery operations and stimulate the production of refined products domestically.
Failure to address these pressing issues, Korie warned, could result in the withdrawal of services by NOGASA’s over 200 members starting from the next month.
The downstream oil crisis coincides with heightened anticipation for the release of refined petroleum products from the Dangote and Port Harcourt refineries, seen as critical for alleviating supply shortages nationwide.
However, amidst forex crises and inflationary pressures, operators in the oil and gas sector confront mounting economic challenges, necessitating urgent government intervention.
As Nigeria navigates through turbulent economic waters, stakeholders eagerly await decisive action from authorities to salvage the downstream oil sector from imminent collapse and avert potential disruptions in fuel supply chains.
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