His Excellency, President GoodluckEbele Jonathan, GCFR
Opening of the World Pension Summit ‘Africa Special’
1. Let me warmly welcome you all to this historic first edition, of the World Pension Summit ‘Africa Special’. I am particularly pleased to address this distinguished gathering, on an issue of overriding importance to people and families; governments and nations.
2. Pension, it is globally recognized, occupies a strategic place in national socio-economic development. It is not only a vital component of social security; it is also a veritable vehicle for nation building.
3. Indeed, investment in pension has profound impact on the well-being of pensioners, society and the economy at large. As such, it is imperative that stakeholders in this life-shaping industry engage constantly in dialogue to bolster management frameworks and practices in their respective jurisdictions.
4. It is therefore heart-warming, that this Summit brings together highly accomplished pension practitioners and experts from Africa, and around the world, in discussion of various aspects of this subject, with emphasis on African perspectives and realities.
5. There is no doubt that the experiences of other countries in pension issues would offer valuable lessons that would assist participants in review and adjustment of their systems and practices, in line with global standards. Indeed, there will be broad lessons that could be drawn from specific history, priorities and dynamics of various pension jurisdictions.
6. For us, here in Nigeria, this meeting is taking place at a time of pronounced transformation in all facets of our national life. In the pension sector, we have also made considerable progress in defining and implementing reforms, and instituting governance structures based on best global practices.
7. In 2004, the Pension Reform Act was enacted by the Olusegun Obasanjo’s administration, to address the recurring challenges experienced in the administration of pension and to enhance efficiency in the system. This reform initiative established the Contributory Pension Scheme, for the public and private sectors.
8. In ten years of sustained policy innovation and meticulous management, these have facilitated confidence and credibility in our pension system and administration. It also strengthened our pension institutions, as we transited from a deficit of about N2 trillion (USD 12.9b) in 2004 to accumulate pension assets of over N4.21 trillion (USD27.2b) by March this year.
9. Furthermore, as provided by the Act, we have restructured the system of administration of the defunct Defined Benefits Scheme in the public service, by setting-up the Pension Transitional Arrangement Department (PTAD) and appointing its substantive Head, in order to improve the scheme. Our goal is to digitize pension payments and streamline payment procedures to ensure prompt and ease of payment of pension benefits.
10. Six days ago, I signed into law, the new Pension Reform Act 2014, which repealed the 2004 Pension Reform Act. The new law seeks to consolidate the gains of reform, address the identified implementation challenges and provide the enabling legal environment to facilitate the creation of quality instruments through which pension assets could be best invested for infrastructure and real estate development.
11. I am confident that these fresh initiatives will assist us to consolidate the remarkable achievements recorded by the National Pension Commission (PenCom) in the implementation of the Contributory Pension Scheme, over the last ten years, for the benefit of contributors, and the entire economy.
12. It is our expectation that PenCom would put in place the necessary regulatory and supervisory framework to facilitate and accelerate the objectives of the reform. Most especially, ensuring the safety of pension assets and hence, workers’ security in retirement.
13. I believe that other African countries share similar experiences, and reform zeal, as Nigeria and it is encouraging that a number of African countries have visited Nigeria, to understudy our pension reform and share ideas which we believe can be useful to the entire continent.
14. As we commit to share experiences and seek growth, let me conclude by emphasizing that the protection of pension assets for the payment of retirement benefits, as and when due, should always be our paramount objective.
15. I am confident that participants will seize the ample opportunity offered by this inaugural World Pension Summit ‘Africa Special’ to reflect and share experiences on how best to fine-tune African pension systems to globally acceptable standards, while retaining tailored and unique adaptations.
16. On this note, it is my honour to declare open the inaugural edition of the World Pension Summit ‘Africa Special’. I wish you very fruitful deliberations.
17. I thank you.
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