TC Harold Withdrawal Scheme & COVID-19 Withdrawal Update

The Fiji National Provident Fund will roll out its targeted natural disaster withdrawal scheme this week for members whose homes were damaged or destroyed during Tropical Cyclone Harold.

Teams will be deployed on 15th April to inspect and collect applications from members living in areas that have been classified as worst affected by the National Disaster Management Office (NDMO).

Chief Executive Officer Jaoji Koroi said that it was unfortunate that Fijians had to endure a natural disaster while the nation was still grappling with the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Our teams have been mobilized and will be working closely with the NDMO teams that will be conducting damage assessments in the areas that have been identified.”

The outcome of the NDMO assessment will also include a confirmed listing of households affected in the identified locations.

“We understand the urgency of the situation because homes and personal properties have been destroyed. We have activated a natural disaster withdrawal scheme for TC Harold, enabling members living in the affected areas to apply for $2,000 per household.”

“This is the initial relief that is being provided to these members and if the damage is considerable, then they can also apply for the normal housing withdrawal to repair or rebuild their homes.”

Members must liaise with their village headman or turaga-ni-koro and advisory councilors as the Fund’s teams will base their assessments on the recommendations of these officials.

Only members who have sufficient funds in their General Accounts, will be eligible for this withdrawal.

Members in rural communities need to provide a valid photo ID, their bank account details, in addition to the approval of the village headman and advisory councilors. Those living in urban areas will need to provide a utility bill as proof of residence, in addition to their ID and bank account details.

In line with the current health restrictions and strict advisories relating to COVID-19, FNPF inspectors will visit the affected areas with the application forms. Eligible members will complete the forms and revert to the Fund inspectors on-site.

“Members need to make informed decisions about their retirement savings and ensure they only access their FNPF savings if they really need to, said Mr. Koroi.

“Members must remember that any early withdrawal assistance is a pre-retirement benefit. The Fund is a compulsory retirement savings scheme and we will continue to ensure that we help our members save for a meaningful retirement.”

The Fund’s schedule to visit the areas affected by TC Harold, will be published in the newspapers, broadcast on radio and also through the social media channels.

COVID-19 Withdrawal Update

A total of $8.36m has been paid; $1.22m paid by Government and $7.14m paid by the Fund. Out of the 10,670 members who have accessed their funds for COVID-19, 2,778 were assisted by Government.

While processing continues, the Fund is appealing to members to ensure their forms are completed correctly.

Of the applications that have been received, a total of 2,431 were queried due to the following reasons:

• Member didn’t sign the form;

• Employer didn’t sign or stamp the form;

• Incomplete form – certain sections of the form were not filled by the member;

• Members not submitting the requirements with their completed applications.

• Employers not submitting required documents with the members’ application forms.

“In addition, we continue to plead with our members to be patient because there is a huge volume of applications and our teams are trying their best to process these withdrawals for COVID-19, however, there are delays that are beyond our control.”

Other factors that have caused delays are:

• Forms dropped off at FNPF offices undergoing a 48 hours quarantine period before staff can process;

• Incomplete forms received will require FNPF to verify by contacting employers;

• Verification for members whose FNPF contributions have not been paid;

• Bank account verification as result of relaxing the bank statement requirement;

• Incorrect withdrawal form filled by the member.

“Members can rest assured that their applications will be processed if they are eligible,” said Mr. Koroi. The processing time for COVID-19 applications is 5 to 7 working days but could be longer due to the reasons highlighted above.