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Good afternoon members of the media.

Earlier this week we had announced the continuation of Phase Two of the COVID-19 withdrawal scheme.

This afternoon, I will elaborate more on this, as well as the new inclusions in the overall withdrawal scheme for COVID-19.

BRIEFLY

Phase Two which opened on 9th June, targeted members who were unemployed or on leave without pay.

It was initially planned to run for five fortnights, beginning on 23rd June and ending this week on Tuesday 18th August.

To date, we have paid $87 million to 113,000 members for Phase 1 and Phase 2.

A total of $22 million was subsidised by Government, while $65 million was paid from FNPF members funds.

PHASE TWO ROUND TWO

As we all know, most of our members are still without employment or on reduced pay and have been greatly impacted by the pandemic.

Members are still facing difficulties and we know it is the unavoidable reality.

We are thankful that the Government had therefore agreed to support Round 2 of Phase 2 and to continue paying those that have applied earlier.

For Phase 2, Round 2, members that are still unemployed or on leave without pay and have been paid $1,100 up to 18 August, will NEED TO REAPPLY to continue receiving the fortnightly payments of $220.

Applications can be submitted from 24 August through the myFNPF mobile App or through Employers with the employer portal.

The same process will follow, where submissions on the mobile app will go to Employers for approval first, before coming to FNPF.

Fortnightly payments will begin from 1 September 2020.

These details will be publicized extensively for members' information and understanding.

BLACKOUT PERIOD

As part of the process to prepare our system for Phase 2 Round 2, the Unemployment Withdrawal is temporarily unavailable between 17th to 23rd August.

Members are unable to apply during this period, until 24 August when members can submit their applications on the mobile app or through their Employers on the Employer Portal.

PHASE THREE

To reiterate, Phase 3 is for members working on reduced hours or reduced wage rates.

Phase 3 will continue as planned.

The application deadline and payment timeline that have been publicised, remain unchanged.

PHASE FOUR

I am also announcing today, that members who have been Unemployed for longer than 6 months, specifically from 1 October 2017 to 30 September 2019 will be able to apply for Unemployment withdrawal.

Applications for this phase will open on 31st August.

Over 32,000 members will qualify for this withdrawal.

The Fund will review this in the next 30 days to consider whether we can open this up to those who have been unemployed longer.

Members applying in Phase 4, must have a minimum of $135 in their General Account the date of submission.

The amount members can withdraw is $100 to $1,100 – depending on their General Account balance.

There is no Government Top Up for this Phase.

Payment will be in lump sum and paid either through bank account, M-PAISA or Post Fiji Bill Paid.

Members must apply through the myFNPF App.

So from next week, our teams will conduct a road show to on-board members on the mobile app, at the same time, update our members current email and phone contacts to enable them to use the myFNPF mobile App.

SUSTAINABILITY

There have been concerns from some members regarding the sustainability of the Fund in terms of assisting members through these tough times, as well as the management of the Fund’s business – particularly investments.

From the outset, I had stressed that the Fund is well within its financial means to enable these withdrawals for members, while continuing to monitor and manage the impact of the pandemic on our business and operations.

The Fund’s total assets is in excess of $7 billion and with over $500m in cash, the Fund has the financial capability to meet our obligations to members.

We have been engaging with our members and have taken on board their requests and suggestions and we will continue to monitor the situation and consider options to help them as best we can.

I will also continue to stress to members, to be honest with their applications during this COVID19 Withdrawal Scheme.

Whatever you withdraw today, will mean less funds for your retirement tomorrow. So please be mindful of this.

ACKNOWLEDGEMENT

Managing the COVID19 Withdrawal schemes has had its fair share of challenges.

But I must commend and thank key stakeholders that have helped the Fund in ensuring the success of our scheme:

 Employers – for submitting members’ applications and validating information which has helped our teams process withdrawal requests;

 Vodafone and Post Fiji – who have helped ensure that members without bank accounts are able to receive their funds through M-PAiSA and Post Fiji BillPaid;

 The Association of Bank in Fiji – for taking our request on board to defer loan repayments so that members are able to access the full amount they have applied for.

 ANZ Bank Fiji – for their Transactive platform enabling us to process payments for our members.

 I must also commend and acknowledge the FNPF team who have gone above and beyond their usual duties to ensure members are provided the relief they seek during this period.

 We rolled out the first of this withdrawal scheme on 1st April but our teams had been working diligently behind the scenes way before that and continue to do so to ensure members receive their funds on time.

 I also thank our members for their understanding and implore them to bear with us as we continue with these withdrawal schemes.

 Last but not least, I thank the media for continuing to partner with us and ensuring members are provided with the correct information during this period of uncertainty.

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