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Union calls for review

Filipe Naigulevu
Saturday, November 25, 2017

THE Fiji Trades Union Congress (FTUC) has raised concerns on the Fiji National Provident Fund's (FNPF) pension scheme and is calling for its review.

FTUC national secretary Felix Anthony in a statement earlier this week called on FNPF to make its pension scheme "a real option for all its members and not just few".

Mr Anthony claimed that while the FNPF's role was to provide a secure and meaningful retirement, its pension scheme revealed anything but secure or meaningful retirement.

"A worker with a $10,000 savings would be entitled to an 8.7 per cent pension annually. This means $870 annually or $72.50 a month or $18.12 a week.

"This scheme condemns the worker and his family to extreme poverty and in fact into the category of a destitute.

"We have currently 304,548 members who would fall within this category if they were to retire with less than $10,000. The current pension scheme therefore is not an option for these workers. We have therefore witnessed full withdrawals."

At the end of its 2016 financial year, the fund had a total of 406,065 members of which 75 per cent or 304,548 had balances less than $10,000.

"A further 21 per cent or 85,274 had balances less than $50,000 and only 4 per cent or 16,242 had balances above $50,000.

"This is definitely not a good picture to see. We are further told that in Cyclone Winston, members were allowed to withdraw $275.5 million," he said.

"This was despite all the financial and other assistance that Government received for Cyclone Winston.

"We question Government as to why it should rely on Workers' retirement fund to mitigate the effects of a cyclone rather than carry out its responsibility as Government.

Mr Anthony said those who had more than $10,000 and less than $50,000 comprised of 21 per cent of members currently.

"If we were to take an average of $30,000, these workers would be entitled to a pension of $2610 annually or $217.50 per month or $54.37 per week," he said.

"Even if we were to calculate at $50,000, the weekly entitlement would be $90.62 a week.

"So we have a pension scheme that would put 96 per cent of the workers and their families with their current balances well into poverty and we call this meaningful retirement?"

Mr Anthony said they were alarmed by the statistics and has reminded FNPF of their primary purpose which was to ensure a secure and decent retirement for its members.

"We are assured by FNPF that the situation will improve in 10 to 15 years which is a very long time and we will continue to have workers retiring into poverty during this period," he said.

"Government needs to get out of the pocket of businesses and do what is right for the majority of workers. A decent minimum wage will be a good start."

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