NEWS

FNPF: Then And Now

Fiji National Provident Fund will renew its attempts to secure properties overseas. This was revealed by the fund’s board chairman Ajith Kodagoda on FBC’s 4 The Record programme. The fund
01 Mar 2017 12:02

Fiji National Provident Fund will renew its attempts to secure properties overseas.

This was revealed by the fund’s board chairman Ajith Kodagoda on FBC’s 4 The Record programme.

The fund had previously attempted to invest in overseas properties but because of mismanagement and bad decisions under former control this did not eventuate.

The fund wants to buy properties where Fijian Government missions are housed. These would be investments that would ultimately benefit fund members.

While this may not be possible in all countries due to policies of host countries, the fund is exploring options of purchasing real estate in Australia, New Zealand, Brussels and London.

Mr Kodagoda also candidly spoke about the previous years of mismanagement and bad decisions that plagued the fund and almost bankrupted it.

The astute business manager and prominent accountant told how he was brought in by the Bainimarama Government to help sort out the problems it inherited at FNPF.

Before he took over the reigns of the fund’s board,  the fund had not had any recent audit of their accounts done and was headed for bankruptcy in 2032.

The Board had members who had taken loans against their pension from the fund and were against any reforms because they would not have been around when the Fund went bankrupt.

And, the fund’s balance sheet did not reflect the real picture of where the fund stood.

Mr Kodagoda told 4 The Record: “I can still remember the day I was called in by the Governor of the Reserve Bank, the Prime Minister was there, the Minister for Economy was there. I don’t know how I was picked, to start with.

“When I looked at the balance sheet, the balance sheet of the fund was not audited for almost six years.

“This is the largest financial institution in the country where the company accounts were not audited and the balance sheet did not reflect the true and fair position.

“What I did tell the PM is that if I am to take ownership of this challenge, we have to clean up the balance sheet.

“If the balance sheet does not reflect the true and fair view of institution, there is no starting point.

“We are looking at the wrong figures. If we know we are looking at the right figures, we can build it up.”

The value of Natadola and InterContinental properties had been overstated at a time when it was clear that it was bad investment the way it was being done.

Some $200million had to be written off and now, as the properties are doing better, those figures are being gradually written back into the fund’s books.

Bad decisions made due to political bias were also to blame for the poor performance of the fund, Mr Kodagoda revealed.

2016 and TC Winston pay out:

Mr Kodagoda said lack of financial literacy drove close to 200,000 people withdrawing from their funds post Winston.

He said people failed to realise that they were withdrawing their money from their retirement fund.

He is now personally spearheading financial literacy awareness so that people come to know more about how the fund operates.

And what it means for the social security of all who belong.

Edited by Naisa Koroi

Feedback: jyotip@fijisun.com.fj

 

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