Dear Mr Kodagoda and Associates
Further to my earlier emails that you have acknowledged ( but not answered the points that I have raised ) there are further matters that I wish to bring to your attention.
The first of these is to your advertisement in the Fiji Times of 16 July 2011 entitled “FNPF CLARIFIES PENSION REFORM”. I previously drew your attention to this in my email of 27 July 2011.
The Unlucky 1209 Pensioners
Even though FNPF initially stated in its various pronouncements that it could not continue to pay all pensioners their pensions to which they were entitled it appears that somewhere along the line you have had a change of heart as your advertisement states you now intend to continue to pay those lucky 9627 pensioners their existing pension, whilst the remaining unlucky 1209 pensioners will be discriminated against and have their pensions reduced by 64%.
I have looked at the Fiji National Provident Fund Act Cap 219 and no where can I find any reference to FNPF paying variable rates of pension as you have announced. Quite to the contrary, the Act clearly requires FNPF to treat all pensioners equally. Can you please advise what authority you have to continue to pay the lucky 9627 pensioners 100% of their 25% pension entitlement so that they will continue to receive a 25% pension, while the unlucky 1209 pensioners will have a 64% reduction of their 25% pension entitlement so that they will be paid a 9% pension rather than the 25% pension that they are entitled to and FNPF is contracted for.
Can you please also simply advise by what authority you make this change and to discriminate against the unlucky 1209 pensioners.
It would perhaps be useful to also explain how we unlucky 1209 pensioners are going to send FNPF, that has funds totalling $3.5b approx broke! Is this not stretching reality just a little to far?
The converse is of course you should also realize that we unlucky 1209 pensioners are subsidizing the lucky 9627 pensioners who will continue to receive 100% of their pensions whilst we unlucky 1209 pensioners are to receive a 64% cut in pensions so that these lucky 9627 pensioners can receive 100% of there entitlement. Interesting? I thought FNPF was against subsidies?
Change of Heart
It is also interesting to note the change of heart, that the lucky 9627 pensioners will continued to be paid 100% of their pensions.
Surely it is incomprehensible that the original announcements by FNPF that it was not able to continue to pay its 10836 pensioners their full pensions could have been so wrong, or 89% wrong in fact. Just how could you get it so wrong? I am mystified? Do you really know what the financial position of FNPF is? Such a significant change as this indicates an almost total lack of financial expertise and serious mismanagement issues, when one day FNPF says it cannot pay the full entitlement, then it very quickly says it can pay 89% of pensioners their full entitlement. Do you really understand the numbers?
This obviously brings into question the competence of FNPF financial management. Do you wonder why we are cynical of FNPF pronouncements?
Your advertisement of 16 July 2011 states the implementation of the proposed changes will be phased over a five year period to allow members to plan their retirements well.
Do you realise that your youngest pensioners receiving a 25% pension are now 67 or 68 years old. There are many older pensioners with the average age probably being in the range of 75 to 80 years old. You should have statistics on this and if you have not already looked at them I suggest you do?
In suggesting the proposed changes will be phased over a five year period this is cruel and heartless. Many of us will have gone to our Maker by then! Can you imagine the mental anguish this will bring to aging pensioners knowing there income is slowly and cruelly being reduced and they can do nothing to compensate for this? You are slowly lowering our income so that as we age our pension income will be reducing and we will not have the physical means to do anything about it. Have you ever heard of anybody employing a 75 year old? Perhaps only as a night watchman so that he can have a good nights sleep! If you don’t know, you need to find out that as we get older our health deteriorates, our mental capacity can slowly deteriorate and problems become insurmountable and lead to poor health caused through the mental anxiety of our problems. This will be the case for many pensioners who are totally reliant on their pension as their sole source of income.
This is exactly where you are leading the unlucky 1209 25% pensioners. It’s nothing you should be proud of!
You continue to mention in your pronouncements “proposed changes” and “pension reform”. I note that your advertisement of 23 July 2011 is no different from your previous announcements. Surely you have had sufficient time to decide on the “proposed changes “ and to tell us just what you intend. Or is it a case of confusion, uncertainty, and you just don’t know what to do?
It would be useful if you could make a clear and precise and final statement detailing exactly what FNPF intends to do. So far your pronouncements have been incomplete, lacked detail, been contradictory, shown to be incorrect and simply caused confusion. And your statements to correct inaccuracies have simply created more confusion. Your advertisement in the Fiji Times of 16 July 2011 headed “FNPF CLARIFIES PENSION REFORM” is a classic example of this.
Can you please state clearly and precisely just what you intend to implement in these “proposed changes”.
Pension Renewal Certificates and Unidentified Accounts
I refer to your advertisement in the Fiji Times 30 July 2011 where in you list the names of persons who have outstanding renewal certificates and to your advertisement in the Fiji Sun of 6 August where in you list companies whose funds are in your unidentified /suspense account..
Whilst it is appropriate that FNPF follows up on these certificates and members, when one looks at some of the names in this list it brings into question the competency of FNPF management. Among the names are many prominent members of society who are listed as pensioners and former leaders of our county and community. These include the following names who are sadly no longer with us and are all deceased. I state them with the greatest of respect, the late Ratu Sir Kamisese Mara. CD Aidney, Joyce Perks, Sir Charles Stinson, and Michael Columbus to name a few. With the greatest of respect, Ratu Sir Kamisese Mara’s son in law is the CEO of the FNPF, surely it should not be necessary to advertise in this case and so cause his family anxiety and concern when a simple request to your CEO could resolve this. Mr Aidney was a former director of FNPF, surely he is known to you and his family could have been phoned, and likewise Sir Charles Stinson a former Minister of Finance and senior cabinet minister, surely his family could have been contacted? After all we do live in a small society and using initiative such as contacting families would quickly bring results and avoid heartache and embarrassment to families who have lost their loved one.
But the real question is why has it taken so long for FNPF to follow up on this. Surely this should be a monthly process so that your records are always up to date.
To wait many years as disclosed by the few names I have mentioned brings into question the competency of FNPF systems and management. Why weren’t these matters followed up many years ago when the problem could have been much more easily resolved and your records kept current?
But again like most things it appears no one cares at FNPF, even after we are long departed, when much respected leaders and loved members and pensioners have gone to our Maker.
The Honorable Thing To Do
As I said in my email of 25 June 2011, you and your associates seem quite incapable of doing your statutory duty of calling up the Government guarantee and honoring the contracts that pensioners have with FNPF . This is your obligation at law! If you and your associates cannot do this then you should all resign forthwith! Do this today, it is the honourable thing to do, and gain the respect of the community by doing what is right and proper!
Whilst I am not naive enough to think that you will do this, I suggest your real problem is that you have dug a hole for yourselves that is so deep, that you and your associates have all fallen in, and there is just no way out? The hole is just too deep?
Let me again tell you the way out.
You should go back to the recommendations of the Blaxland report and continue the reduction in pensions from 15% down to 10% reducing by 1% each year until it gets to 10% as recommended by Blaxland. FNPF has the financial ability to withstand this.
Prior to the 10% level being reached, that is when there should be the widest consultation possible with pensioners, members, employers, unions and employer representatives, academics and any other interested parties so that a consensus is achieved on the way forward for FNPF. FNPF is not going to go bust in doing this.
This is the logical way through for FNPF pensioners and members , and not the draconian course that you are recommending.
It is the acceptance of these recommendations that will enable FNPF to see its way clear and avoid the disaster you are planning to inflict on pensioners, FNPF and all of Fiji. This is not a time for “ grand standing”, face up to reality, come out of the hole you have dug for yourselves , and accept help, and you will find a whole community of pensioners out there wanting to assist you in the way forward.
In all of the emails and letters I have sent, you have not replied in detail to any one, challenged my arguments or in any way tried to substantiate your position. Should I then treat this as acquiescence to the points I have made. As after all, silence is generally accepted as acquiescence! Can I presume you have no answers to the points I have raised and agree with these?
To show my good faith in all of this I am quite happy to meet with you to discuss and substantiate the questions I have raised and to confirm to you the way through the morass you have created for yourself. I suggest to you it is preferable to engage with your pensioners rather than take the ham fisted, heavy handed approach, hiding behind the corporate veil that you and your colleagues have attempted.
I believe you have my phone contacts or can simply respond to this email so that we can privately talk this matter through on an intelligent and mature basis. There are ways through, you need to communicate. I await your call.