The House of Representatives Committee on Finance has flagged the salary structure of the National Pension Commission (PenCom) and demanded its thorough scrutiny.
The committee, during the interactive session on the Medium Term Expenditure Framework and Fiscal Strategy Paper, on Thursday, said it discovered that the commission budgeted N12.02 billion for staff salary and N2.5 billion for other staff costs for 2022.
The lawmakers raised the concerns after the Director-General of PenCom, Aisha Dahiru-Umar, in her submission, said the commission had 500 staff but had to pay them a competitive salary to ensure they are not compromised.
She explained that the commission cannot afford to have staffers that are vulnerable to compromise, hence the need for training, capacity building and competitive salary.
“The commission has to source and retain highly trained staff. We have to build capacity. We have to train our staff. That is one of the expenses. We have to train them. We have to avoid what is known as regulatory capture. What this means is that our staff will compromise.
“As we are now when we go to examine the operators, we don’t take more than drinking water from them. We don’t compromise because our staff are well paid. We must earn more than the entity we regulate,” Mrs Dahiru-Umar told the lawmakers.
Following the DG’s submission, a member of the Committee, Aminu Suleiman (APC, Kano), did a crude calculation with N12.02 billion and 500 staff. Based on the calculation, the lawmaker said he discovered that on average, a staffer of PenCom earns N2.4 million monthly.
Ms Dahiru-Umar disagreed with the calculation of the lawmaker and said the item highlighted encompasses all allowances, including training.
“Personnel cost is not restricted to salaries; we have about 14 items here. The salaries, the allowances—both the training, allowances and others come under this. Nobody earns a million in PenCom from the DG downward. Maybe we are doing it wrongly. However, we categorize everything as personnel cost,’ she explained.
Not satisfied with the response, Mr Suleiman drew the attention of Mrs Dahiru-Umar to a document she submitted, which, according to him, stated specifically that the N12 billion was for salaries. He, therefore, moved a motion that the commission should provide the details of the salaries of the commission.
“Everyone knows what constitutes personnel cost. This is a personal emolument to personnel. You cannot bring other components of your expenses here. I will ask that she supply the details of the per head of all the staff,” he said.
The Deputy Chairman of the Committee, Saidu Abdulahi (APC, Niger), concurred and then ruled that the commission should provide the needed details of salaries and emolument within one week.
Breakdown of PenCom budget
Although Mr Suleiman claimed PenCom budgeted N12.3 billion, the document submitted by the commission to the committee and sighted by PREMIUM TIMES, shows that the actual approved budget of the commission for salaries in 2022 was N15,346,628,233.05 and N2,511,497,822 for other costs.
The figure cited by Mr Suleiman is the MTEF projected figure, which is not the same thing as the actual approved figure.
The commission is expected to generate N26.23 billion in 2022 and remit N2.6 billion to the Consolidated Revenue Fund.