The Federal Government will not borrow from the pension fund to provide palliatives as the country continues to fight coronavirus pandemic, Chairman of the Presidential Task Force on Covid-19, Boss Mustapha has said.
Mustapha, who is also the Secretary to the Government of the Federation gave the assurance while giving an update on the activities of the PTF on COVID -19.
The Contributory Pension Scheme, which came into existence in 2004, has grown to about N10 trillion.
Mustapha explained that although the government had toyed with the idea of borrowing from the fund, it concluded that it was too early for government to dip its hands into the fund.
He said: “We had looked at the issue of pension funds. As a matter of fact, we even got the minister of state for education to do us a position paper and our conclusion was that the time is not even right for us to go there because the entire world order in terms of our economy and in terms of our health system has been disrupted by COVID -19 and the consequences nobody can imagine until probably the dust is settled.
President of the Nigeria Labour Congress, Ayuba Wabba, said the fund should not be used by government to provide palliatives.
Wabba, who appeared at the daily briefing of the PTF, called for the protection of the fund.
He said: “The contribution pension is actually not a free money. It is money that belongs to the pensioner, it is in the pensioner’s retirement savings account and it is structured in such a way that he will continue to draw this money throughout his life.
“So clearly speaking, we need to protect those funds and we need to also ensure that the pensioners or the workers that are contributing this money; at the end of the day if they are not working, they should be able to have something to rely on. So clearly, I think it should not be used for this purpose.”
Meanwhile, the Federal Ministry of Labour and Employment has promised to step in and resolve the industrial dispute between Plateau State Government and some state health workers who were allegedly sacked.
Minister of State for Labour and Employment, Festus Keyamo, said that although the National Industrial Court had closed for workers to seek relief, he said the ministry would be ready to act as conciliator in the matter between the health workers and the state government.
He said the ministry will only intervene in industrial cases that involve health workers because of the nature of the services they are providing during this pandemic.
Keyamo said: “Our duty in the ministry of labour is to act as conciliators in such a circumstance. For now, because we are very much aware of the impediments, if any such thing occurs now in respect to health workers who suffer any kind of injustice from their employers, the impediments are that the courts are not opened especially the National Industrial Court (NIC), they can’t rush to court and get a relief.
“Even the ministries are closed for now. But perhaps, they can try and get in touch with us through the ministry’s emails or even my personal social media handle. If they send me a direct message – because these are unusual times, to act as conciliators at this time.
“We understand the primacy of the work of health workers now so we can make exception only for health workers; to come out of our confinement to act as consolidators in such cases.”