As part of the sensitization campaign undertaken since 11 June 2018, Commissioner for General Administration and Conference, Mr. Vafolay Mbandoe Tulay and his team met with the ECOWAS staff in Lomé, Togo, this 18 June 2018 to inform them on the ECOWAS Pension Scheme. The meeting gathered all staff from the Regional Agency for Agriculture and Food (ARAA) and the Infrastructure Projects Preparation and Development Unit (PPDU).
According to the PowerPoint Presentation made prior to discussions, the Scheme is already operational and the pension selection launched in June 2016 with pension arrears payable from January 2012 onwards. It concerns primarily ECOWAS permanent staff. Contract and other categories of staff are not yet eligible to the scheme but strong advocacy and lobbying efforts are directed towards the Board of Trustees for them to consider the case and make provisions for such staffs in the future.
The program proposes a total of 20% contribution of basic monthly salary breaking down to 6% of basic monthly salary contribution by the employee with a top-up of 14% contribution by the employer. Before benefiting from it, a minimum of 10 years’ contribution to a maximum of 35 years’ contribution is due and normal retirement starts at age 62.
The ECOWAS Pension Scheme is designed to be a competitive one as it builds on the experience and successes of the UEMOA CRRAE program and will be payable in the currency desired by the employee. It is meant to fill the gap that existed before as regards securing the old days of the personnel when they reach retirement. It also falls within the dynamics of the current institutional reforms within ECOWAS.
Concerns and worries raised by the staff in attendance included among others, the current challenges they have concerning refund of medicals by the ECOWAS Commission and more importantly they fact that staff from ARAA and PPDU are all on contract. Other questions focused on the sustainability of the scheme and how best this offer will help ECOWAS staff to better prepare for retirement.
Commissioner Tulay and the Pension Desk Officer, Mrs. Obiageli Ray-Oleru provided exhaustive answers to the various questions stressing that one of the key objectives of the current institutional reforms is to correct and improve some of the administrative and contractual practices that prevail at ECOWAS.
In this perspective, it is hoped that with the reforms, some staff will shift from contract to permanent staff. As a matter of fact, it is ECOWAS will to give more incentives and more secured contracts to its employees for them to fully contribute to the development of the region through facilitating the shift from an ECOWAS of States to An ECOWAS of Peoples.