The House of representatives committee on finance has queried the Pension commission PENCOM for spending N12 billion in 2021 and N14.594 billion on personnel cost for 500 staff as well as N2.3 billion end of year benefits.
The lawmakers issued the query during the scrutiny of the Commission’s accounts, at the ongoing 2023-2025 medium term expenditure framework MTEF session at the National Assembly.
The committee members, who demanded the Commission’s audited accounts questioned the N1.715 billion on administrative expenses.
The deputy chairman of the committee, Mr Sa’idu Abdullahi, who presided, accused PENCOM of breaching extant financial regulations and the provisions of the 1999 Constitution (as amended).
“Everyone knows what constitutes personnel cost. This is a personal emolument to personnel. You cannot bring other components of your expenses here. I will ask that she supply the details of the per head of all the staff.”
Responding, the director General of PENCOM, Dr Aisha Umar, explained that by the provisions of the Establishment Act, all income earned from investment earned from the Retirement Savings Account are credited back to the RSA of the contributors, saying nobody takes a single kobo from it.
Dr A’isha Umar however, said the Commission and the Pension operators are allowed to charge fees on the fund under management because that is what it survive on.
“If we don’t pay our staff good salaries, we are going to submit to what we called regulatory capture. What this mean is our staff will compromise. As we are right now, when we go to examine the regulators, we don’t take more than drinking water from them. Even if it is raining, we don’t allow their drivers take our staff to the hotel. We don’t compromise because our staff are paid very well and if you compromise, you cannot tell the truth. That is why we must earn more than the entities we regulate.”
She added that the contributory pension has hit N14.5 trillion made up of three funds, which include the Retirement Savings Account Fund, the Closed Pension Fund Asset and the Assets in Existing Scheme.
To this end, the Committee which issued a seven-day ultimatum to the Commission to submit relevant documents for further legislative scrutiny also directed Fiscal Responsibility to submit the report on the reconciliation with various ministries, Departments and Agencies within one week.