Pre-retirement withdrawals

Viliame Vodonaivalu - chief executive officer for the FNPF. Picture: JONA KONATACI/FILE

The Fiji National Provident Fund says it is looking into new types of pre-retirement withdrawals to “meet the needs of members applicable to today’s challenges”.

FNPF chief executive officer Viliame Vodonaivalu revealed this after FNPF was asked about the legislative and policy review it had in place to avoid “Government exercising its long hand dipping into members’ fund to assist members”.

He said this in a written response to Parliament’s Standing Committee on Social Affairs, which had reviewed the 2019, 2020 and 2021 annual reports of the FNPF.

“What legislative and policy review does the fund have in place to ensure members interests are protected at all times, especially in trying times like COVID-19 so as to avoid a repeat of Government exercising its long hand dipping into members’ fund to assist members?” the committee had asked.

The FNPF said its preservation policy design of the system of allocating 70 per cent of contribution in the Preservation Account for retirement purposes was a strong premise of the fund’s design and legislation.

“The fund is in the process of reviewing its strategic direction noting the impact of the pandemic both operationally and legislatively in such a crisis situation,” the FNPF response said.

“Strengthening the sustainability of the institution and the design of its operation that while it aims financial independence in retirement for our members, we also want to remain relevant in how we can meet the needs of members applicable to today’s challenges.

“This includes retirement products offered, types of pre-retirement withdrawals grounds, and the adequacy of contributions.”

FNPF said the disruptions by COVID, Tropical Cyclone Winston and other disasters had shown the strength of the fund financially and administratively.

“It has expanded the role of the fund into other areas that are not consistent with both its design and purpose. And as custodians, we want to make sure we make the right decision for the best interest of our members and the fund, not only today but also in the future.”

FNPF said any legislative changes would require a decision by the FNPF board and taken to the minister. Members of the committee are government members Viam Pillay (chairman), George Vegnathan and Alipate Nagata while Salote Radrodro and Ratu Antonio Lalabalavu represent the Opposition.

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