By Cecilia Ijuo
Abuja – The Bill for an Act to amend the Pension Reform Act to provide for definite percentage a retiree can withdraw from his Retirement Savings Account passed second reading at the Senate on Wednesday.
The Bill is sponsored by Sen. Aliyu Wamakko (APC-Sokoto)
Leading debate on the bill, Wamakko said that the bill was meant to ameliorate the sufferings of retirees who found it difficult to withdraw their benefits after retirement.
He said it would enable retirees to withdraw 75 per cent of their benefits as lump sum after retirement rather than the current provision which allowed for withdrawal of only 25 per cent.
He added that the amendment would also hasten the period of payment as against present practice where retirees waited endlessly to access their benefits.
“Rather than enjoy retirement after selflessly serving their father land, they continue to remain in misery, pain, sickness and even death.
“The relevance of the amendment cannot be overemphasized.
“It seeks to provide succour to retirees in the delay and other difficulties encountered in withdrawing from their retirement savings account.
“It equally provides for definite and reasonable percentage that the pensioner can withdraw from such account,’’ he said.
Supporting the bill, Sen. Adamu Aliero (APC-Kebbi) said the bill came at a time when so many retirees went through much hurdle to access their retirement benefit.
He said it was for a similar reason that the old pension scheme was abolished for a new one in 2004.
Aliero said, “this is one of the most important bills that seek to radically address the present problem that retirees are facing.
“When we moved to contributory pension, even after retirement, you have to wait for a given period before you have access to this fund.
“The issue is, nobody questions how you eat and how you pay your children’s fees. I think that is what this bill seeks to address.’’
Aliero commended Wamakko for intervening to ensure that retirees received their benefits as at when due.
Lawmakers present unanimously voted for the passage of the bill to the next level.
In his remarks, the Deputy President of the Senate, Ike Ekweremadu, who presided at the day’s session, assured that the Senate would continue to pass laws that would contribute positively to the wellbeing of all Nigerians.
While commending Wamakko for coming up with the bill, Ekweremadu said “I am sure the retirees will be happy with you and indeed the Senate’’.
He referred the bill to the Committee on Establishment and Public Service Matters and directed that it should be returned to plenary in four weeks.
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