National pension still in starting blocks

12 August 2019 | Local News

Local pension fund administrator Marthinuz Fabianus has suggested that the Social Security Commission (SSC) consider a Namibian-based solution as it moves to establish a national pension fund.

He made the remarks in an industry newsletter recently.

The SSC, the champion of the envisaged national pension fund, initially came up the idea to establish the fund but has been struggling to get out of the starting blocks with the fund for over 20 years, a situation Fabianus finds perplexing.

According to Fabianus, the SSC has attempted without success to bring into operation the NPF law, at great cost to the taxpayer.

“The main reason for the failure has to be the fact that SSC has been using international experts who tried to copy and paste western world social security models to our local environment, which repeatedly proved not to be sensible,” he said.

Namibia, Fabianus said, had all the makings to ensure that the national pension fund would thrive.

“Namibia has a thriving and world-class occupational pension fund industry within a dynamic regulatory environment. I therefore submit that a National Pension Fund law should require that say all persons contributing to current Maternity Leave, Sick Leave, and Death Fund (MSD Fund) be required to contribute to a Retirement Fund,” Fabianus said.

“The rationale for my suggestion is that we should make best use as a country of our already existing infrastructure managing occupational pension funds, to extend retirement funding coverage to the [approximately] 389 000 qualifying and gainfully employed persons of our country, currently without occupational saving arrangement,” he added. Fabianus also dispelled any fears that the suggestions he was raised would benefit him because he manages a local pension fund administrator.

According to him, there is a lot of merit in using all existing infrastructure such as insurance companies that offer underwriting cover for group arrangements, access to world-class asset management firms, pension fund administrators with underutilised pension fund administration systems, and the current regulator of the occupational pension funds industry (the Namibia Financial Institutions Supervisory Authority), which he said had already built major capacity.

The SCC had in January this year told Namibian Sun that the national pension fund would be operational by the middle of 2019.

Its spokesperson, Unomengi Kauapirura, told Namibian Sun at the time that the pension fund task team was revisiting some of the design recommendations.

“The revised policy is currently being updated by the national pension fund team for consideration and approval by the minister of labour and the management of the ministry. If all project deadlines are met, the national pension fund should be fully operational by the middle of 2019,” she said.

According to Kauapirura, the ministry has reviewed the documents and recommended further revisions of the recommended design, following a consultation and briefing session between the labour minister, ministry officials and the SSC board in March 2018.

“Once the policy is approved, it will require the drafting of a Social Security Pension Scheme Bill to be submitted to parliament,” she said.