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New rules on early reporting put pressure on retirement schemes

Retirement Benefits Authority (RBA) chief executive Edward Odundo. PHOTO | DIANA NGILA
Retirement Benefits Authority (RBA) chief executive Edward Odundo. PHOTO | DIANA NGILA 

Kenya’s pension industry regulator has effected a new rule requiring schemes to publish audited financial statements no more than three months from close of the fiscal year in June.

The move puts on the spot laggard retirement schemes such as the National Social Security Fund (NSSF) whose latest report is for the year to June 2015.

The Retirement Benefits Authority has now set September 30 every year as the deadline for all schemes to publicly publish reports in a fresh strategy to enhance transparency and integrity in the Sh1 trillion pension industry.

This comes after Treasury secretary Henry Rotich, through the Finance Act 2016, introduced amendments defining the reporting period for retirement schemes effective past January 1.

Retirement Benefits Authority (RBA) chief executive Edward Odundo said all schemes will have to align their fiscal years to end in June to comply with the September deadline.

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“We’re harmonising the reporting period so all schemes release their statements at the same time,” Dr Odundo told the Business Daily.

Other schemes with delayed financial statements are troubled Kenya Railways Staff Retirement Benefits Scheme and Technical University of Kenya Staff Retirement Benefits Scheme.

“They are now obliged to comply,” Dr Odundo said in reference to NSSF and other schemes with pending financial statements.

Other schemes such as county workers’ pension fund CPF will be forced to change their reporting calendar from December to June to comply with the fresh industry rules.

The new reporting framework puts retirement benefit schemes at par with commercial banks and deposit-taking micro-financiers who must publish their full-year financial results by end of March as their financial period ends in December.

Kenya has more than 1,200 retirement benefit schemes dominated by employer-sponsored plans and about 32 individual plans, according to data from RBA.

Mbao Pension Plan, which targets blue-collar workers with a Sh20 per day retirement plan contributed through mobile money platforms such as Airtel Money or M-Pesa, is the largest individual scheme.

The value of assets under management held by retirement funds hit the trillion shilling mark for the first time in the half year to December 2016, the regulator said.

Administrators, managers and custodians of retirement schemes in Kenya will also have to disclose their ownership, directorship and top management to the regulator, the new rules stipulate.

Any changes on the shareholding, board and senior executive will also have to be filed to RBA within 30 days in line with provisions of the amended law.

Analysts at KPMG said the new rules on financial reporting timelines and disclosures on firms managing retirement schemes will help inspire public confidence in the industry.

“This is expected to increase transparency and accountability in the retirement schemes,” said Robert Waruiru, associate director in charge of tax and regulatory services at KPMG.

NSSF acting managing trustee Anthony Omerikwa did not respond to our queries on efforts he will put in place to ensure the State-run scheme releases June 2016 results and beats the September deadline for June 2017 statements.

The State-backed pension scheme released its financial statements for the period to June 2015 mid last year showing it has an asset base of Sh165.5 billion.

Members of the Kenya Railways Staff Retirement Benefits Scheme meet on February 10 for their AGM to review financials for the year to June 2015.

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