Though, ARFESPON expressed its appreciation to PTAD for the recent six months areas of the 33 percent it paid to its members, it noted that both PTAD and federal government have decided to sweep the outstanding 20.4 percent arrears of deductions from their entitlements since eight years ago under the carpet without any comment despite several calls by the various Pensioners group for government to pay attention to it.
President of Lagos Chapter of ARFESPON, Mr Olufemi Odewabi, addressing the media on the outstanding arrears at the group’s secretariat in Lagos, said it was painful to the Pensioners that government has decided to turn deaf ear to their calls for payment of this huge outstanding arrears.
He said for almost eight years, his members and other pensioners’ groups have been calling on government to direct attention to this but that neither government nor its agency for retirees under the Defined Benefit Scheme in the name of PTAD has deemed it fit to say something in that regard .
Questioning whether government thinks they are babies or so old that they don’t know their rights, Odewabi said this is the time for the Muhammadu Buhari led federal government and Mrs Sharon Ikeazor led management of PTAD to make a statement on the eight years outstanding pension arrears of benefits.
Explaining how the eight year 20.4 percent arrears came about, Odewabi said the arrears were incurred by government when government effected 53.4 increase in workers’ salaries and pensioners’ benefits.
He said a committee was set up by Goodluck Jonathan to look into the 53.4 percent increase in pension entitlements but that the committee suddenly wake up to factor in some illegal deductions from Pensioners benefits .
According to him, the committee recommended the following deductions from Pensioners benefits tax, Contributory pension, housing and NHIS, all totaling
20.4 percent deductions and recommended that only 33 percent of the increase effected by government should be paid to Pensioners.
Describing this as wrong and illogical, the ARFESPON Chairman said “It is a rape on the right of the Pensioners, viewing this deduction from possible two dimensions, it is obvious that the conclusion of the committee that reviewed the approved 53.4 % increase for Pensioners acted in nullity and was even not logical in arriving at such conclusions”.
According to him, as reviewed in the white paper report, it was stated that the committee believe that out of the 53.4 % increase tax, Contributory pension, housing , NHIS totalling 20.4% should be deducted which makes them arrive at the conclusion that only 33% out of the 53.4 % should be granted over good eight years.
He argued that 20.4 percent of 53 percent is not 33% rather 10.68 percent.
He said looking at it from both sides of the coin,the committee’s conclusion was wrong and illogical.
In his argument, Odewabi said if 20 % of the granted increment is to be deducted,then 20 % of 53.4 % cannot be 33 %. Furthermore, he argued that the call for the review of pension increase was wrong and a deliberate intention to short change Pensioners and was constitutionally wrong and tantamount to economic sabotage.
He questioned the tax deduction adding that Pensioners benefits are not supposed to be taxed.He also questioned the deduction for Contributory pension scheme when they are under the Defined Benefit Scheme..