FG To Roll Out a Micro Pension Scheme To Self-Employed Individuals
PLANS are afoot to extend the pension scheme beyond the formal public and private sectors. The Federal Government is planning to organise a micro pension scheme for thousands of artisans, self-employed accountants and lawyers, among others.
The proposed scheme, according to National Bureau of Statistics (NBS), underscores the.....government’s conviction that the informal sector remains a critical part of the economy.
According to statistics, the sector which accounts for over 70 per cent of the working population, has been uncovered by structured pension managers.With the planned introduction of a micro pension scheme, the Federal Government, through the National Pension Commission (PenCom), would be bringing more Nigerians under the pension’s umbrella, thus ensuring that save for the rainy day.
Going by Section 2(3) of the Pension Reform Act 2014 which extended coverage of the Contributory Pension Scheme (CPS) to self-employed persons, the Pension Reform Act 2014 established the legal framework for micro pension.
According to the NBS demographic, 37.6 million (representing 40.1 per cent) of Nigeria’s 93.5 million adult population, operate within the informal sector of the economy.
A further breakdown of the demographic shows that 8.6 million (representing 9.2 per cent) of the adult population earn their income from the formal sector; 49.4 million (representing 52.8 per cent) is under 33 years; 58.7 million (representing 62.8 per cent) own a mobile phones and 21.5 million (representing 23.0 per cent) have no education.
The demographic profile also states that Nigeria has a large rural population of 63.9 per cent, but there has been significant urbanization since 2012. The Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Abuja’s population is growing at nine per cent per annum, Lagos is growing at three per cent and the national growth at two per cent.
The Gross Domestic Product (GDP) as at the end of last year, stood at about N94.1 trillion, with the informal sector accounting for N38.7 trillion and N55.3 trillion from the formal.
According to PenCom’s report on the current pension coverage, pension managers have 7.24 million contributors in their network as at September under the formal CPS. The figure represents about 7.7 per cent of labour force and above four per cent of contributors in private and public sectors.
In a paper titled: “Understanding micro pension scheme: Features, prospects and expectations”, presented at workshop organised for finance, insurance, labour and business editors in Calabar, Cross River State, PenCom Head, Micro Pensions Department, Polycarp C.N. Anyanwu, described micro pension as an initiative that exists for the provision of pension coverage to self-employed individuals.
According to him, micro pension is a global trend and has been implemented in India, Kenya and Ghana. Anyanwu said the scheme engages and extends pension to the larger working population, especially those outside the formal sector.
The PenCom official stated that micro pension in Nigeria covers three strata – the lowest, middle and high income earners.
He listed artisans, accountants, lawyers, mechanics, tailors, traders, hair dressers, architects and engineers among others, who are self-employed in various trades and professions, as the commission’s target.
Anyanwu noted that the micro pension scheme is an offshoot of the pension industry five-year strategic plan to expand the CPS coverage to 20 million contributors by 2019, adding that the pilot phase of the scheme would be targeting 250,000 enrolments within six months.
He disclosed that trade unions and associations are expected to assist by introducing the scheme to their members ahead of the kick-off of the pilot phase.
Anyanwu said: “To commence the pilot phase, we are targeting 250,000 contributors to enroll within 6 months, test ICT technology to ensure adequacy, test run the guidelines and framework, test the ease of operations, registration, contribution, withdrawal of savings portion and embark on capacity building for staff and operators.
“The possible challenges from the scheme however are socio-cultural inclinations, documentation challenges, low level of financial literacy, lack of confidence in government, irregular income inflow, low level of ICT literacy, associated transaction costs and low level of education.“Some of the peculiarities of the individuals that operate within the informal sector are irregular flow of income, highly mobile and flexible jobs, lack of permanent work address, lack of official means of Identification and other documents, typically excluded from pension systems prior to PRA 2014and they are largely uneducated.