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WORKERS in Fiji can find themselves in financial trouble if they do not plan their retirements wisely.

This is a message from the Fiji National Provident Fund as members are increasingly seeing the Fund as a source of withdrawal for their needs.

Of the total 352,000 members of the Fund (2008 financial year), 97,041 applications for withdrawals were received.

Additionally, only 15 percent of those eligible for retirement opted for pension. The total number of active pensioners as at June 2008 is 9 790, a slight increase from the last financial year.

FNPF Chairman, Mr. Parmesh Chand said the Fund paid out $33.6million to about 3480 members who opted for lump sum withdrawal when they turned 55 for the same period; which is an average of about $10,000 per member.

“With the current high cost of living, the $10,000 would be fully utilized in several months, and then members will be left with virtually little, if any, money to survive on for the rest of their lives,” says Mr. Chand.

“The Fund reiterates that members need to leave sufficient money in their FNPF accounts for their future. As such any withdrawals accessed under approved grounds will reduce the amount available for their retirement. Therefore, we request our members to plan their withdrawals wisely, as it will ultimately affect their retirement fund,” says Mr. Chand.

“FNPF promotes the accumulation of savings for members’ funds for permanent retirement thereby enhancing a better appreciation of our pension scheme. We encourage our valued members to opt for this,” Mr. Chand said.

The Fund is strategizing its focus to streamlining its role to achieve the objectives of its establishment of saving and investing funds, ensuring a financially secure future for its members.

“Members need to be informed that all funds deposited into their accounts are meant for retirement and in order to have a sustainable pension, they need to reduce their withdrawals,” Mr. Chand stressed.

“It is our primary intention that we at FNPF achieve our underlying objectives and we seek the cooperation of members to share our vision and focus of saving their money for their future,” he said.

He added that the repercussions of lack of planning and forethought will only be financial difficulty for the rest of one’s life.

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