The House of Representatives has mandated its committees on Pensions, Finance and Capital Market institutions to interface with the Nigerian Pensions Commission (PenCom) and other stakeholders on the viability of investing part of the N5trillion idle pension funds in infrastructural facilities.
The resolution of the House was an offshoot of a motion sponsored by a member, Yusuf Tajudeen, yesterday.
The motion was passed with dissent from some members.
While arguing the motion, Tajudeen said there is growing concern over infrastructural decay in all sectors of the country as a result of neglect, ineptitude and lack of planning by successive governments.
He said the dearth of infrastructure is having far-reaching consequences on the economy of the country.
He said: “In over one decade of the implementation of the Pension Reform Act, the National Pensions Commission has accumulated about N5 trillion which is mainly in the vaults of commercial banks as free funds characterised by low investment returns and sharp practices by various Pension Funds Administrators (PFAs).”
According to him, in most countries in Europe, Asia and America, pensions funds are usually invested in the provision of infrastructure as a means to regenerate the funds, grow the economy, sustain meaningful development and met the needs of the citizenry.
He expressed concern that the consequences of taking offshore loans and facilities to address the infrastructure needs of Nigeria will, in the long run, bring colossal damage to the economy.
“The huge infrastructural deficit in all sectors of Nigeria’s economy cannot be achieved through budgetary allocations alone, thus, if no concrete and pro-active investment strategies are put in place to comprehensively address these infrastructural challenges, the nation may be thrown into deeper economic crisis,” he said.
However, Hon. Pally Iriase and Hon. Lawal (Yobe North/South) sounded a note of caution on the issue.
Iriase said there is need to be careful so that wrong decisions that would be regretted in the future would not be made on the issue.
Lawal said members should take cognisance of the fact that already, there is over N80 billion non-performing loans problem in the country and it would be sad if the pension fund becomes a part of that.
According to him, there might be a scenario in which the retirement benefits of pensioners may not be paid as in the past because of bad investment decisions.
Source: The Nation