FG To Invest Six Trillion Naira Pension Funds – Adeosun

Finance Minister, Kemi AdeosunThe Minister of Finance, Kemi Adeosun, says the federal government is being cautious as it plans to invest the over six trillion Naira pension funds.

The Minister said this when she appeared before the House of Representatives as part of its ongoing sectoral debate on diversification of the Nigerian economy.

“A lot has been said about the pension money. We have six trillion and people treat it as if it’s just available for the taking. This is people’s future savings, so we have to be very cautious about how we release pension money into investment.

“The first thing we have to do is to relax the rules cautiously and with many safeguards so we don’t lose pensioners’ money and cause a problem in the future.

“Definitely we are going to put things in place such as the infrastructure bond that we are releasing that will encourage pension funds to invest but invest safely,” she said.

The Minister also said that the federal government has set up a committee to look into the financial impact of waivers that have been given by the government.

“Over the last five years we have given away one trillion Naira in waivers. It is quite significant and we believe that it needs to be looked at.

“Import duty waivers alone is 503 billion, VAT waivers is 227 billion. We are now going to look at what the cost benefits of these waivers are, what are the jobs that they have created.

“What we found is that they have been accused in some cases. We found that methods used to manage them are manual and therefore there is a lot of manipulation which we intend to address.”

Lawmakers Seek Investment Of Pension Funds In Infrastructure Development

LawmakersThe Nigerian House of Representatives has asked its Committees on Pension, Finance and Capital Market to look at the viability of investing over five trillion Naira pension funds in infrastructure development.

In a motion sponsored by a member representing Kabba Federal Constituency, Mr Tajudeen Yusuf on Wednesday, the lawmakers lamented the growing decay in infrastructure across Nigeria.

They agreed that the consequences of taking foreign loans and facilities to address infrastructure demands would, in the long run, have a damaging impact on the economy.

The lawmakers, therefore, advised that the pension funds be used to finance infrastructure.

World Pension Summit Closes In Abuja

Pension Summit Besides investing in infrastructure like roads and the power sector, finance experts have advocated investment of pension funds into short term government securities.

Speaking at the end of the World Pension Summit in Abuja, they called for discipline and the engagement of experts in managing the funds.

What must be done to reform the pension system in Nigeria and Africa, often characterized by delayed payment upon retirement or non-enrollment, after years of meritorious service, came to the fore at the event.

The Director-General, National Pension Commission, Chinelo Anohu-Amazu, said that key decisions were being made on how to reverse the trend and ensure that the funds are channelled into ventures that are worthwhile.

Other speakers at the summit also spoke about protecting depositors’ funds that would guarantee a secure future for retirees.

While pension assets in Africa is put at over 400 billion dollars, it still has an infrastructure deficit of 75 billion dollars. This huge resources, according to the experts, could turn the economic development of the region around if well harnessed.

Govt must avoid foreign contractors for local Engineers – Ogunlewe

Affirming that local Engineers are better trained, a former Minister of Works, Mr Adeseye Ogunlewe, has enjoined the government to patronize Nigerian Engineers in the construction of roads, warning that “it is very wrong to be awarding construction contracts to foreigners.”

Mr Ogunlewe made the suggestion on our breakfast show, Sunrise Daily, where he was speaking on the poor state of the nation’s road networks.

He noted that foreign contractors such as the“Chinese, Lebanese and Indians have no commitment in fixing our roads.”

The former Minister further alluded that the foreign contractors are very clever persons who know how to carry along government officials and they think very fast.

In explaining what he meant by foreign contractors being ‘very clever’, Mr Ogunlewe allege that  “the (foreign) Engineers and the their companies get very close to government officials and even their families and they also give gifts and tickets to travel abroad.”

“They are very skilled at this (persuasion) because they are trained in it” he added.

He enjoined indigenous Engineers to be encouraged by “putting a number of local Engineers together, and form a company which the government will fund.”

When asked why he did not implement such a policy whilst he was serving as the former Minister of Power from July 2003 to March 2006, he replied saying “we started purchasing equipment and we were going to partner with COREN (Association of Nigerian Engineers) before I left office unceremoniously.

“Since 1972, we have being urging for indigenous Engineers to be encouraged” he stated.

Road Fund and Infrastructure bank

The former Minister also called for the establishment of a Road Fund, which he claimed can be sourced strategically by peculiar states in need of huge infrastructural development such as Lagos.  Such  funds must be allowed by law not to go the Consolidated Revenue Fund which will be shared.

Mr Ogunlewe claimed that the largest amount of fuel is consumed in the nation’s commercial capital which also holds over 40 per cent of the nation’s vehicular population.

“Lagos should be allowed to charge something on every litre of fuel bought to help maintain its road.”

He also made the call for the establishment of Infrastructural Bank, which he claims, can tap into the massive funds that has being built in the Pension Funds-“which is sitting somewhere and doing nothing” and adequately invest it in our much needed infrastructure.