S.N.P.F commits to support private sector

Waiving penalty fees and working out payment plans are just two ways the Samoa National Provident Fund (S.N.P.F.) will help employers adjust to paying an extra one per cent towards their employees' fund contributions.

In order to grow the fund for future pensioners and greater lending capabilities, the S.N.P.F has decided to increase mandatory contributions to 10 per cent over the next three years. The move was met with concern by members of the private sector, and the fund said it is listening and will help.

S.N.P.F Member Services Manager, Maposua Tanya Toailoa, said during their meeting with Samoa Chamber of Commerce Monday evening, the two main concerns private sector have is the timing of the increase, and the cost of it to their business. So those are the two areas the fund can help with.

“We have taken into account the comments from a lot of members in the business community that this is a timing issue. If they had time to prepare they would have organised their finances to take this into account,” Maposua said.

Today, late monthly payments are charged at 2 per cent per month, which does not compound, and Maposua said S.N.P.F rarely goes as far as taking non-compliant employers to Court.

The S.N.P.F is yet to approve the ways Maposua and her team will help employers but she envisages the support will last at least 12 months, to get the private sector ready for the next 1 per cent increases in July 2020 and 2021.

 “Traditionally is has not been a practice to waive that fee. But we have taken into consideration the concerns raised by Chamber members and that is something we can seriously look at.

“Once that is formally approved by our board there will be a formal notice given to Chamber to advise them on it.

Members will also be able to adjust their payments from the regular monthly date to bimonthly or more, in order to plan better for the higher payments. 

“To allow our members a few months to pay will assist them with their cash-flow,” Maposua said. 

“That doesn’t mean we’ll allow them to just pay seven per cent come July, they still must pay the increase but what we will do is give them time.”

Every employee member is eligible for help to adjust to the increased contributions, and Maposua said since Monday’s Chamber meeting some companies have already visited her office to discuss their options. 

“No matter the size of business, the concern is the same; the impact to business is the same.”

S.N.P.F Chief Executive Officer Pauli Prince Suhren said it’s important to be realistic about the cyclical earning nature of sectors like the hotel industry.

“Revenue is not the same for every month of the year, there are some that are better than others. We realise that as SNPF,” Pauli said.

“In those cases we are flexible in allowing them to pay more in their sunny days, and be more flexible in the rainy days when they are not doing so good.”

He said he has heard Chamber membership say the increase is coming at a “not so fortunate time,” and so S.N.P.F is here to help ease them into the increase.

Pauli said employee members won’t see any similar supports to making the extra one per cent contribution from this July, but will be able to see the benefits soon enough in increased lending opportunities and ultimately a larger retirement fund.

“What I would like to say to our employees is that this is being done primarily for their benefit,” he said.

“Employers make a point in the additional costs they will have to bear, as they are not directly members themselves but our employees are.

“Every benefit we have for them is going to multiply because of what we are doing.”

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