Council wants an effective “members” association to keep a watch on FNPF

10/05/2010 10:15

The Consumer Council of Fiji believes that it is time to have an effective Fiji National Provident Fund (FNPF) “members” Association formed to closely scrutinise and monitor the fund’s management including its investment and lending activities. Currently all FNPF decisions are being made by the FNPF Board where two union members represent the workers. It Fiji only 40% of workers are union members while 60% of the workers are non-union members. This means more than 60% of FNPF contributors and pensioners have no representation on the board. The Council fears continuing with this current practice could lead to serious financial problems for the fund in future with possibilities of members losing their life savings. An effective Association of FNPF member’s will safeguard member’s interest by being vigilant and ensuring transparency in decision making process.

Hence we need a strong, recognised and influential “voice” of FNPF members and pensioners that can press for more transparency and accountability from the FNPF Board and its executives. This is imperative to safeguard member’s funds. The Council understands that FNPF needs to invest however, these investments should be on “high yielding” investments and not bad ones where members money do not grow.

Poor and bad investments do not only result in loss of members funds but also in the interest rate that members receive on their savings. The interest rate to members by FNPF has decreased over the years and with increasing inflation, the real value of members savings have also diminished over this period. All these could be contributed to FNPF’s poor investment decisions. The past Board members failed to make FNPF funds grow which in turn would have increased the individual member’s pension fund through high interest rates. Such action from the past board members would have truly secured members retirement through increased pension funds.

Being a single provider of superannuation services, which receives member’s contributions by statutory power, has made FNPF drape itself with an image of being unreachable, aloof and riddled with red tape without focusing much on their customers’ needs. This can be seen in the poor customer service to consumers who have to stand in long queues to be served, are often given run-around by the officers and placing charges such as the withdrawal fees on pensioners. The FNPF management and staff must understand that without members there is no FNPF. 

The Council believes that member should have a voice in FNPF’s management to see that peoples life savings are protected and invested prudently.