Mr Atedo Peterside, the founder of Stanbic IBTC Holdings Plc, on Thursday said that government needed to provide guarantees for pension funds investment in infrastructure activities to avoid risk.
Peterside disclosed this at the “The PlatformNG60” organised by Covenant Christian Centre in Lagos, anchored by Pastor Poju Oyemade.
The Platform is non profit initiative by Covenant Christian Centre.
It is aimed at empowering Nigerians with insights and skills needed for economic transformation and ensuring good governance.
Peterside spoke against the recent calls that N10.8 trillion pension assets should be used to unlock other sectors of the economy that need funding.
He said that pension funds were workers’ life savings that needed to be protected and should not be gambled with.
He explained that Pension Fund Administrators (PFAs) could not gamble with people’s life savings by investing without guarantee.
“The number one rule that should guide how those funds are invested should be to get a good return for the owners of the money.
“Even if Nigeria wants to insist that a large chunk of those pension funds go into a particular activity, Nigeria must derisk that activity.
“Which means that somebody must take away the risk from the pensioner.
“You cannot take a 90-year-old man or woman’s pensions to go and gamble in some activity because he depends on it as a priority.
“All PFAs, all over the world, their first loyalty is the owner of the fund, it does not matter how large the funds are”.
He explained that the funds were meant to be invested to get the best returns and at a lower risk.
“What we must do as a country, is that if we want the lion share of those funds to go into a particular activity, we must make sure that returns available to PFAs are good and we must derisk,” he said.
He noted that infrastructure projects in Nigeria were dangerous to invest in.
According to him, to derisk means that you can guarantee the activity.
“If you want pension money to go into fourth mainland bridge, it means Lagos State Government or the Federal Government should provide guarantee.
“If you provide the right guarantee, the PFAs will give you all the money,” Peterside said.
On banks lending to the real sector, he said that quality of ideas and projects should quality people for credit.
He lamented that chunk of commercial banks funds were locked up with the Central Bank of Nigeria.
Peterside also emphasised the need for elections and electoral processes to be freer, fairer and more credible to sustain democracy. (NAN)