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Digitalising insurance for optimum performance

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Digitalising insurance for optimum performance

With technology largely dominating all aspects of business operations, especially the financial sector, experts believe that the nation’s insurance operators have no choice than to join the train or be left behind in the scheme of things. Sunday Ojeme reports

 

 

To flow smoothly with the global business environment, emphasis on use of technology has remained topical for insurance operators to embrace.

In the last three quarters of the year, the need for the Nigerian industry players to move along with time as regards latest tech applications in the operations dominated several fora, even as the industry steps up its recapitalisation drive.

To further consolidate the process, the scenario was repeated over the weekend as the Acting Commissioner for Insurance, Mr. Olorundare Sunday Thomas, again hammered on the need for the operators to move towards full digitalisation of their operations.

Reaffirmation

 

Speaking at the Chartered Insurance Institute of Nigeria (CIIN) Professional Forum in Abeokuta, Ogun State, he said in this 21st century, for any business to succeed, automation of operations remains the way forward.

He, therefore, called on chief executive officers of insurance companies to embrace technology in order to reap its benefits.

 

 

According to him, digital technology has integrated the world and its systems into “one global village” where all transactions are now on our finger tips. Bigger than the phase of the advancement are the implications which are already affecting us positively or negatively depending on our perspective.

“Insurance business must understand that digitalisation has now taken precedence in people’s day to day affairs and the consequence could be massive if we fail to fix any gap that this can create in our service delivery. We must effectively integrate into the robust financial circle for insurance to take its rightful place in the economy.

“We must invest in technology in order to meet up with current phase of advancement and take our products to the comfort of consumers

 

Widespread integration

To him, technological advancement has taken an unprecedented leap to becoming an integral part of “our daily living, adding that the Digital Era actually started evolving in the 1980s and presented society with information and technologies that are essentially transforming how businesses across all industries operate and serve their customers, the insurance industry inclusive.”

 

Besides low capitalisation, which has seen the local insurance industry not being able to perform optimally, human and technical capacities are also playing largely in its poor performance.

 

For the fact that the insurance market is an information based market since there is lot of gathering, processing and distribution of information, the internet has naturally become a ready tool for any forward looking chief executive officer to embrace.

Doing this goes beyond surface deployment of such technology to as much as making use of relevant software and also keeping the workers on their toes through training and retraining.

 

To make the process comprehensive, the acting commissioner said the commission more than ever before was resolute in sustaining existing initiatives and introducing new reforms that will transform the industry from the resisted to the sought after, neglected to the promoted, despised to the preferred and form the penny stocks to the investors delight. Its achievable and in our power to do.

 

“The theme for this year’s forum “The Digital Era: Implications for Insurance Professionals” couldn’t have come any time better than now that the phase of technological advancement has taken an unprecedented leap to becoming an integral part of our daily living.

“In 2015, PwC identified that Mobile devices, tablets and smart phones will be the most important technological advancements in the insurance sector in the nearest future. This implies that consumer experience, locally or globally are going to be greatly influenced by digital technology.

 

“Imagine this scenario; consumers having their claims, complaints or inquires attended to with minimal human participation, tasks that ordinarily would take several daunting processes to accomplish, now simplified and automated, saving downtime, improving consumer experience, reducing operational costs and providing new revenue streams. This scenario as just described is not far-fetched from reality, it is not only possible and achievable, it is already happening.

Limitless possibilities

 

“This is where our true service will lie and also how the narrative of the insurance industry and market in Nigeria will change. The prospects in embracing technological advancements in the insurance industry are almost limitless; it almost seems too good to be true, and one might wonder if there are many caveats or implications to worry about.

“It thus becomes imperative that we ask ourselves these questions as insurance professionals as to where we want to belong and what we should do. Where are we as an industry in the phase technological advancement? Where are our compatriots? Are we where we should be? What do we need to do?

“In this 21st century, digital technology has integrated the world and its systems into “one global village” where all transactions are now on our finger tips. Bigger than the phase of the advancement are the implications which are already affecting us positively or negatively depending on our perspective

“Insurance business must understand that digitalisation has now taken precedence in people’s day to day affairs and the consequence could be massive if we fail to fix any gap that this can create in our service delivery. We must effectively integrate into the robust financial circle for insurance to take its rightful place in the economy.

“We must invest in technology in order to meet up with current phase of advancement and take our products to the comfort of consumers. The demand by consumers for ease of transacting business is becoming clearer and aggressive. How we respond to these demands will certainly determine our position in the financial market and long-time sustainability of our businesses.

Regulator’s position

“The Commission on its part is committed to improving the use of technology in the sector. It is on this premise that the commission is investing hugely in automating most of its operations. To this end, the commission’s portal that will integrate all insurance transactions into a single hub is being finalised. Hopefully, by the time we meet next year, our processes would have become fully automated and operational. Suffice it to say that NAICOM has at all times encouraged practitioners to adopt technology in their businesses.

“If the industry is to effectively key into the financial inclusion target of the Federal Government, it therefore behoves us to reinvigorate and face the challenges of digitalising our operations, not only to build trust, confidence and reassurance of all stakeholders that the industry is ready to encore its peers, but to enhance penetration.

“Our failure to key into the 21st century demand for digital business services might spell doom for our industry. Our failure to master Social, Mobile, Analytics and Cloud technologies, means we will be unable to serve even the most basic demands of customers and the post-digital world. Hence, we will be prevented from embracing the next digital trends or disruption. It is important we work towards being part of the wave because this new set of technologies will ensure we rethink the entire industry and the parts needed to be played in the world.

Expert opinions

 

Not long ago, the Chairman, Chartered Insurance Institute of Nigeria (CIIN), Eddie Efekoha, said “as operators, we must begin now and not later to address our minds to the following questions: How do we maximize the use of the additional capital to generate superior returns to investors? How does technology help the industry to deliver superior service and deepen insurance penetration?

 

“How do we develop a data pool that supports improved pricing of risks underwritten and innovative products driven by consumer insights? What do we do to develop and attract the right skills and talents that can match the fast pace of technology revolution?

“How do we harness the values inherent in partnering with other industries like telecoms and banks to deepen insurance penetration? How do we partner with various arms of government like the NPF, Customs, Fire Service to ensure compulsory insurances are enforced? Above all, how can we cooperate better than we currently do for the good of all stakeholders?”

 

Also, a topnotch member of PWC Nigeria, Mr. Andrew Nevin, had reminded the local underwriters of the need to start thinking ahead as the future of the industry would only favour technology savvy investors.

He said: “By 2030, banks will be invisible. Asset management will be almost completely customized. Insurance will become co-creation on risk and not loss mitigation. Create your ethical issues. There will be massive change in insurance as insurance companies will work with individuals to reduce the level of risks due to accumulation of data.

“Ninety per cent of transactions would be via mobile, 99.99 per cent transaction would be electronic. People will own their own data. If you are not the best in analytic, you are not in business.”

  Last line

Drawing inferences from how far tech applications as well as trend making artificial intelligence have assisted in making things easier for business concerns, the definite thing for Nigerian insurance is to heed the call to avoid being driven out of the market.

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Business

Apex bank CBN to create 2m jobs via cassava value chain

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Apex bank CBN to create 2m jobs via cassava value chain

The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) yesterday issued an exposure draft on guidelines for Shared Services Arrangements for banks and Other Financial Institutions (OFIs).

In a circular posted on its website, the apex bank said: “The absence of standards for the application of costs related to shared services and ensuing pricing arrangements has resulted in uneven management of shared services in the banking industry and has been a source of concern for regulators, especially in view of its governance, financial and tax implications.”

Thus, the guidelines it released Thursday, the CBN explained, are aimed at providing guidance to banks and OFIs on the initiation and evaluation of shared service arrangements.

It further stated that the proposed rule “sets operational standards for banks and other financial institutions in line with best practice and ensures compliance with Executive Order 5 of the Federal Government of Nigeria, signed on February 12, 2018, which seeks to promote the development of indigenous capacity and local content in  contracts  and  science,  engineering  and technology, as a necessary tool to drive national competitiveness and productivity.”

Specifically, the CBN listed objectives of the guidelines to include setting out supervisory expectation in respect of shared services arrangements between a parent company and its subsidiary; ensuring  that  the  fees  received  or  paid  are  a  reflection  of  the  services rendered, taking into account the assets used and the risks assumed; making sure that financial institutions comply with the extant transfer  pricing regulation in Nigeria and reducing  operational cost of benefitting institutions.

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Agric

NASC: Gunning for quality seed economy

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NASC: Gunning for quality seed economy

Recently, the hierarchy of the National Agricultural Seed Council (NASC) disclosed that about N1.1 billion would be required to execute its programmes under a five-year strategic blueprint to improve seed system in Nigeria. Taiwo Hassan reports

 

To make Nigeria’s food sufficiency programme a reality to guarantee sustainable food security and safety in the country, there is need for quality seed availability for farmers.

However, it is regrettable that Nigeria is yet to possess quality seed in her agriculture space following widely adulterated or fake seeds in circulation.

In a bid to correct the wrong, the Federal Government saddled the National Agricultural Seed Council with the responsibility of regulating seeds in circulation and to ensure that Nigerian farmers get high quality seeds and also reduce fake ones in the country to the barest minimum.

Curbing fake seeds

In many fora, stakeholders have raised concern over increased circulation of adulterated seeds, a development that is posing a threat to Nigeria’s gross domestic product.

Ideally, curbing fake seeds in circulation has been very challenging as statistics showed that over 70 per cent of people who have no business with seeds jump into the business without getting certified by the Seed Council- National Agricultural Seed Council.  They end up selling junk to farmers.

Consequently, this has resulted to farmers being at the receiving end by buying fake seeds, thereby truncating the actualization of food sufficiency in the country.

With this menace in place, it is important that the only agency empowered by law to regulate the seed industry in Nigeria, NASC, plays its role to deal with the challenge.

As part of the strategies to combating fake seeds merchants and helping farmers access quality seeds, the Director-General of NASC, Dr. Philip Ojo, told journalists in Abuja that his council had perfected arrangement to provide farmers with a call centre and a helpline.

He explained that “the helpline will serve a platform to address the concerns of farmers and the general public on seed related matters.”

Ojo noted that to achieve the desired food security in the country, farmers need to be properly guided in their dealings in the seed market, as that would help them to make informed decision towards improved yields and bumper harvest.

Funding

However, to realise the dream of eradicating fake seeds in the country’s agriculture space, the issue of funding to NASC is important.

To achieve this, Ojo disclosed that N1.1 billion was required to execute its programmes under a five-year strategic blueprint, spanning from 2019 to 2024.

Ojo, in a chat with newsmen in Lagos recently, decried the low funding from the statutory budgetary allocations, saying that the council intends to leverage technology to develop improved seed system for farmers, ensure greater access to quality seeds, and position Nigeria as the seed hub of Africa.

Despite the fact that Nigeria already accounts for a large number of seeds used in West Africa, the DG stated that the endgame was not only to sustain food sufficiency in the country but to also improve agricultural produce for exports.

2019 NASC Act

Speaking on the 2019 NASC Act, Ojo said that the council had been enabled by its enactment in line with changing trends in the global seed industry, adding that the Act will ensure adulterated seed peddlers face stiffer sanctions.

In his words: “It is important to have a new Act because there are changing trends in the global trade industry, and Nigeria cannot afford to be left behind. There are also other things that were not in the old Act, which has been added; one major issue is that of doing the wrong thing in the seed industry because, in any other professional business, there are also fraudulent and deceitful people as well as regulation that should not be broken.

“The penalties in the Seed Act before were very minimal, example; if anybody runs afoul of the law in the old Act, he or she was to pay a fine of N50, 000 for a first time offender, N100, 000 for a repeat offender as well as a jail time of six months.

“Under this new Act, if the first time offender is found guilty he or she will pay N1 million and jail time of one year, while a repeat offender would pay N2 million and jail time of two years.”

Last line

Agric stakeholders hope that the proposed N1.1 billion to execute the country’s seed programmes under a five-year strategic blueprint will come to reality.

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Energy

OPEC+ likely to extend oil supply cuts until June – sources

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OPEC+ likely to extend oil supply cuts until June – sources

OPEC and its allies are likely to extend existing oil output cuts when they meet next month until mid-2020, with non-OPEC oil producer Russia supporting Saudi Arabia’s push for stable oil prices amid the listing of state oil giant Saudi Aramco.

The Organisation of the Petroleum Exporting Countries meets on Dec. 5 at its headquarters in Vienna, followed by talks with a group of other oil producers, lead by Russia, known as OPEC+. The current oil supply cuts run through to March 2020.

On December 5, Saudi Arabia is set to announce the final pricing of the initial public offering of Aramco, in what it hopes will be the world’s largest IPO. The oil price at the time is likely to be key to Aramco’s listing, expected around mid-December, reports Reuters.

“So far we have two main scenarios: either meet in December and extend the current cuts until June; or defer the decision until early next year, meet before March to see how the market looks and extend the cuts until the middle of the year,” said an OPEC source.

“It is more likely that we will extend the agreement in December to send a positive message to the market. The Saudis don’t want oil prices to fall, they want to put a floor under the prices because of the (Aramco) IPO.”

OPEC sources said market conditions in the first quarter of 2020 remain unclear amid concerns of a slowdown in oil demand and weak output compliance by some producers such as Iraq and Nigeria, which is complicating the outlook.

An OPEC delegate said: “My feeling is that (an extension) to end-June to avoid meeting again early March, with the possibility of calling for an (earlier) meeting should market conditions require it … is the likely scenario as of today.”

The two sources said formally announcing deeper cuts looked unlikely for now although a message about better compliance with existing cuts could be sent to the market.

Saudi Arabia, OPEC’s de facto leader, wants to focus first on boosting adherence to the group’s production-reduction pact before committing to any more cuts, they said.

“The Saudis want to see how the rest of those who are not complying (with the cuts) do first. There are no numbers being circulated so far for deeper cuts or changing output quotas,” said the first OPEC source.

Amrita Sen, co-founder of Energy Aspects think-tank, which closely watches OPEC and Saudi oil policies, said a mere extension by OPEC+ of the existing output cuts until June might not be enough to support oil prices.

“The market expects a further cut and an extension until the end of 2020. In any other scenario, the market will sell,” she said.

Russian President Vladimir Putin set the tone for the December meeting last week, calling Saudi Arabia’s position ahead of the talks “tough”.

Moscow argues that it will find it hard to cut oil production voluntarily during the cold winter months, especially in western Siberia, where Russia produces two-thirds of its oil and where most of its well rigs are located.

Freezing temperatures make it difficult for Russia to shut in and restart wells in winter months.

“There is no doubt that Russia won’t let the Saudis down in case of a price collapse, given the upcoming IPO,” said one source familiar with Russian thinking.

He added that Putin had developed close ties with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and the Russian government was aware that the three-year-old partnership could fall apart if Russia did not support Riyadh.

The OPEC+ alliance has since January implemented a deal to cut output by 1.2 million barrels per day, to help boost oil prices trading now at $62 a barrel.

“This is not only about supporting Saudi Arabia. The deal, without a doubt, is beneficial for Russia. The Russian budget has received more than $100 billion from the deal. And the deal has stabilized the Russian economy,” Kirill Dmitriev, the head of Russia’s Direct Investment Fund, told Reuters.

Dmitriev and Energy Minister Alexander Novak were the key architects of a deal with Saudi Arabia, which began in 2017.

Saudi Arabia and other Gulf producers in OPEC have been delivering more than their share of promised cuts to stabilise the market and prevent prices from falling.

In October, the kingdom raised its oil output to its OPEC target, pumping 10.3 million bpd to replenish its inventories after attacks on its facilities last month, but kept the volumes of crude supplied to the market at 9.9 million bpd.

Last week, OPEC Secretary-General Mohammad Barkindo said U.S. shale oil supply growth could slow next year while demand may have upside potential, appearing to downplay any need to cut output more deeply.

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Business

Traders lament continuous border closure

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Traders lament continuous border closure

The sustained border closure by Federal Government has continued to destabilise commodity retailers, especially those into food item business.

Investigation by New Telegraph revealed that the situation had started creating an atmosphere of hopelessness since the Federal Government has vowed to sustain the closure till end of January 2020.

Nigeria closed its land borders to both Benin and Niger in August in what the government said was aimed at curbing smuggling of goods, especially rice into Nigeria. The closure has led to increase in food prices and subsequently pushed up annual inflation in the country.

Speaking on the development, John Paul, who sells food stuff such as rice, beans garri, noodles, among others at Egbeda market, complained that since the closure of the border his business had been affected in terms of both patronage and restocking.

He said the effect of the closure was obvious, as he has both increased the price at which he sells as well as reduce the quantity he buys.

Another woman, who pleaded anonymity, complained that the fairly used clothes she sells were now difficult to buy.

According to her, before the closure of the border she used to purchase her goods from neighboring countries at cheaper price, but with the closure, she now buys here in Nigeria but at a high price.

Before the border closure she used to sell her clothes for as low as N300 or N400 depending on the quality of the material, but now she sells them for nothing less than N600.

Another woman, who also pleaded anonymity, explained that there were goods currently on demand but not available as a result of the closure.

“Products such as sardines and some brand of sanitary wares are no longer in the market,” she added.

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Business

ICPC bestows integrity award on FAAN staff

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ICPC bestows integrity award on FAAN staff

The Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) has recognized a staff of the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria, Mrs. Josephine Ugwu for her honesty and integrity in the discharge of her duties.

Mrs Ugwu was presented with the award at a two day summit on ‘Diminishing Corruption in the Public Sector’ jointly organized by the Office of the Secretary to the

Government of the Federation and ICPC in Abuja.

You will recall that in a celebrated case in the year 2015, Mrs. Ugwu while carrying out her duties as a cleaner at the Murtala Muhammed Airport, Lagos saw the sum of $12,200,000 in a toilet and submitted it to security officials. The money was subsequently returned to the owner. She has also refunded other sums lost by several other passengers at different times.

Mrs. Ugwu was subsequently given automatic employment by the Authority in recognition of her honesty and exemplary conducts.

The event climaxed with an hand shake to Mrs. Ugwu from the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, President Muhammadu Buhari. She was also given a brand new apartment in Lagos for her act of honesty and integrity.

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Business

Senate pledges to help AMCON recover N5.4trn debt

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Senate pledges to help AMCON recover N5.4trn debt

The Chairman, Senate Committee on Banking, Insurance and other Financial Institutions, Senator Uba Sani, has declared that the Senate under the leadership of current Senate President, Ahmed Lawan, will join forces with the executive arm of government to wage serious and sustained war against obligors of the  Asset Management Corporation of Nigeria (AMCON), whom he described as economic saboteurs, saying they must be made to repay the over N5trillion outstanding debt owed the corporation.

Sani made the declaration at the commencement of the 2019 retreat for members of the Senate Committee on Banking, Insurance and other Financial Institutions, which began in Kaduna on Wednesday.

He said recovering the huge debt of AMCON had become a major burden for which the National Assembly will consider all options including reactivating the Failed Bank Act and at some point invite the pioneer management of AMCON under the leadership of Mustapha Chike-Obi to come and explain to Nigerians what they did during their tenure.

The chairman also hinted that the National Assembly would continue to support AMCON by providing all legislative supports including further amendment of the AMCON Act, if need be, to enable the corporation to recover the huge outstanding obligation.

He said the red chamber would bring up several motions that will enlighten the public on the real dangers of non-recovery of the debts to the economy. As the upper legislative arm provides AMCON with such support, the senator said if need be the Senate would along the line step on toes as far as the recovery of these national assets are concerned.

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Business

NSE extends gain with N46bn

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NSE extends gain with N46bn

Nigerian stocks market yesterday sustained its positive outlook as the overall performance measures, NSE ASI and market capitalisation, rose further by 0.36 per cent each.

Market watchers attributed development to renew of confidence as bargain hunters leverage on under value stocks.

Consequently, the All-Share Index rose by 95.94 basis points or 0.36 per cent to close at 26.872.09 index points as against 26.776.15 recorded the previous day while market capitalisation of equities appreciated by N46 billion or 0.36 per cent to close higher at N12.969 trillion from N12.923 trillion as market sentiment remained on the green territory.

Meanwhile, a turnover of 239.2 million shares in 3,585 deals was recorded in the day’s trading.

The premium sub-sector was the most active (measured by turnover volume); with 121 million shares exchanged by investors in 1,527 deals.

Volume in the sub-sector was driven by activities in the shares of FBNH Plc and Zenith Bank Plc.

The banking sub-sector boosted by the activities in the shares of GTB Plc and Sterling  Bank Plc followed with a turnover of 45 million shares in 624 deals.

The number of gainers at the close of trading session was 21 while decliners closed at 12.

Further analysis of the day’s trading showed that Cornerstone Insurance Plc topped the gainers’ table with 10 per cent to close at 77 kobo per share while Oando  Plc followed with 9.89 per cent to close at N3.89 per share and Flour Mills Plc with a gain of 9.85 per cent to close at N17.85 per share.

On the flip side, CCNN Plc led the losers’ chart with a drop of 10 per cent to close at N18.00 per share. Jaiz Bank Plc followed with a loss of eight per cent to close at 69 kobo per share while Lasaco Assurance  Plc dropped by 7. 41 per cent to close at 25 kobo per share.

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Business

FirstBank reiterates commitment to women empowerment

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FirstBank reiterates commitment to women empowerment

The Chief Executive Officer, First Bank of Nigeria, Dr Adesola Adeduntan, has restated the lender’s commitment to empowerment of women.

He stated this at the bank’s first female-focused product, ’FirstGem’, 3rd Anniversary Conference held in Lagos yesterday.

He said: “May I reiterate that FirstBank is committed to the empowerment of women. We understand their story and recognise their invaluable contributions to the economy of our nation in particular and the global economy in general.

“Having identified the gaps in their lives, both in corporate Nigeria and in the entrepreneurial space, we are committed to bridging those gaps effectively by providing the tools required for women’s empowerment.”

The First Bank CEO said he was delighted that FirstGem was already in its third year, adding that the product, which was launched on 28 October 2016, was designed specifically to meet the financial needs of both corporate and entrepreneurial women.

“This product, apart from being an account dedicated solely to women, is lifestyle-enhancing. It provides a total lifestyle support for discerning women to enable them meet their economic needs and aspirations,” he said.

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Business

Savannah Bank: Reps summon Emefiele, NDIC boss

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Savannah Bank: Reps summon Emefiele, NDIC boss

The House of Representatives has mandated its Committee on Banking and Currency to summon the Governor of Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Mr. Godwin Emefiele and Managing Director, Nigeria Deposit Insurance Corporation (NDIC), Alhaji Umaru, to ascertain the new status of Savannah Bank, its readiness to commence operation and to ascertain whether promoters of the bank have fulfilled all requirements to begin business.

The committee is also requested to invite the shareholders and the new management of the bank to brief it on possible ways they have fashioned to pay or refund depositors’ funds.

The resolution followed the adoption of a motion sponsored by Aliyu Da’u Magaji (APC, Jigawa), at Thursday’s plenary of the House.

The committee, which is to submit its findings in two months, has also been mandated to ensure that effective measures are put in place to avoid the reoccurrence of what led to the withdrawal of the bank’s licence and eventual closure in 2002.

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Business

Pension: Workers invest N951.28bn in banking sector

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Pension: Workers invest N951.28bn in banking sector

Nigerian workers, who are active in their contributions under the new pension arrangement, Contributory Pension Scheme (CPS), have so far invested about N951.28 billion in the banking sector.

The investment carried out on their behalf by pension Fund Administrators (PFAs) represent 9.93 per cent of the total N9.58 trillion pension assets.

According to a breakdown of the total investment posted on the industry regulator, National Pension Commission (PenCom)’s website, the pension fund managers also invested a total of N6.84 trillion in Federal Government securities within the period, representing 71.43 per cent of the total assets.

Details of the commitment shows that Federal Government bond got the highest with N4,47 trillion at 46.1 per cent; treasury bills, N2.2 trillion (23.62%); agency bonds N10.2 billion (0.11%); Sukuk, N80.52 billion (0.84), and green bonds, N13.37 billion (0.14%).

Within the same period, a total of N125.24 billion, representing 1.31 per cent was invested in state government securities while corporate debts securities gulped N621.95 billion, representing 6.49 per cent.

In the same vein, corporate bonds got N572.41 billion (5.97%); corporate infrastructure bond, N17.79 billion (0.19%); corporate green bonds, N31.71 billion (0.33%) and supra-national bonds N4.03 billion, representing 0.4 per cent.

Other areas invested in include commercial papers, N123.28 billion (1.29%), and foreign money market securities, N1.07 trillion (11.21%).

For mutual fund, they invested N9.90 billion (0.10%) in open/close-end funds and N11.91 billion (0.12%) in Reits.

The investment choice as stipulated by law setting up the scheme also includes real etste properties, N231.48 billion (2.42%); private equity fund, N32.06 billion (0.33%); infrastructure fund, N34.89 billion (0.36%) as well as cash and other assets, N26.47 billion, representing 0.28 per cent.

From recent development, the outlook of investment is likely to expand as the regulator disclosed recently that workers in the informal sector are gradually keying into the scheme.

According to the Head, Corporate Communications, PenCom, Peter Aghahowa, 19 PFAs have registered 28,000 micro pension participants as at November.

According to the breakdown, 21,430 participants were registered as at June 2019,b while in July, 221 participants were registered. In August 2019, 1,299 Nigerians were registered, September, 2737 registered and in October, 2313 participants registered.

While over 40 million Nigerians in the formal sector have no pension plan, which account for about 65 per cent of the GDP, Aghahowa said registration had, however, been challenged due to low financial literacy.

Other challenges include the need for National Identity Number (NIN), which is one of the criteria for registration; low awareness about the scheme and inadequate technology platform to support the registration process.

He said in a bid to tackle the challenges, the commission embarked on campaign across the traditional, social and digital media, engaging with union, associations, professional bodies and non-governmental organisations.

“Though NIN has slowed down the process of micro pension registration, PenCom has, however, collaborated with the National Identity Management Commission (NIMC) to ensure that participants get their numbers on time to fast track registration.

“The commission is working on having its own USSD code to ease payment of pension contribution for enrollees,” he added.

Though the micro pension scheme is moving at a slow pace, the President, PenOp, Aderonke Adedeji, said there was need to give it time in order to avoid mistakes.

Speaking on the growth of the industry, Adedeji said 15 years after setting up the Contributory Pension Scheme, it has grown to over N9.trillion.

“However, we are not yet where we want to be. We need to address the issue of transfer window and the slow registration of NIN, but we are making progress in that aspect.

“In recent time, we have been experiencing slow pace of growth of the industry and the reason is not far-fetched.

“In terms of the state of the Nigerian economy, we have increase in unemployment rate which is a threat to the growth of the industry,” she added.

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