Media Releases

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Good afternoon members of the media.

As you all know, the Fund has been providing unemployment withdrawals to its members since March. These withdrawals are made within the FNPF Act, Regulations and approved policies of the Fund.

Today I will announce updates on the ongoing COVID-19 withdrawal scheme.

BRIEFLY 

I will briefly talk about the 3 phases currently in progress.

Phase Two Round Two for members who were still on leave without pay due to COVID-19 or unemployed from October 2019.

There are 26,114 members on this phase with a cost of $28.7m. Government top up for this is $18.3m or 64% of the total payout. 

Phase Three are for members who are working but on reduced hours or reduced wage rate. Fortnightly payments were applicable for those on reduced hours while those on reduced wage rate received one-off payments depending on the percentage of reduction in their wage rate. 

A total of 24,726 members are on this phase with cost of $13.5m. Government top up under this phase is $3.48m and $9.5m accessed from members funds. 

Phase 4 which opened on 31st August, was for members who were unemployed from 1st October 2017 to 30th September 2019. 

A total of 4,263 members have been paid $3.14m. 

Extension of Phases

As we can see from the above, over 55,000 members are accessing the three grounds currently in progress. With borders still closed, and also from our data and listening to our members, it is clear that these withdrawals will have to be continued. There is no doubt that the impact of the pandemic is far-reaching and far from over. We have also consulted Government on this.

Today, I am announcing the extension of Phases Two, Three and Four.

Phase TWO Round THREE

From 28th October, Phase 2 Round 3 will open and the fortnightly payments will begin on 10th November.

Members who are still on leave without pay due to the pandemic or who have been unemployed from 1st October 2019 will continue to be assisted. 

We are expecting more than 25 thousand members to access this phase and the projected cost is approximately $28m.

It is important to note: that for members who withdrew in Phase Two Round Two and indicated in your application that you agree to be continually assisted for COVID-19 withdrawal; you will automatically be reregistered for the third round. 

There is no need for them to reapply. 

Only those who indicated on the form that you do not agree, will need to REAPPLY on the mobile app or through your Employer. 

We know that there are some hotels that are hoping to employ some of the members accessing this relief phase, in the Love your Locals campaign – especially on weekends. They will not be affected. 

We will be liaising with these hotels to ensure the members who are employed for this campaign, do not lose out on their fortnightly relief.

Phase THREE, Round Two

Phase Three, Round Two will open on 21st October.

There are more than 24 thousand members anticipated to apply for the next round of this phase.

Members will need to reapply for Phase Three, Round Two, through their Employer. 

Just to reiterate – it is very important that members and employers select the correct category of relief that is applicable – especially for members on reduced hours. 

We cannot change any incorrect category selection once a member’s application has been approved and processed for payment. 

So it’s important that members and employers choose the correct category before applications are submitted through the portal. 

Phase FOUR - Extended

This phase is now being extended to members who have been unemployed from 1 January 2013 to October 2019; and this will open from next week Monday 12 October 2020. 

Members must have a minimum of $135 in their General Account and can withdraw between $100 to $1,100 

There is no Government top up for this Phase and the withdrawal is one off. 

The details of all three phases including the payment timelines, will be publicized next week and it’s very important that members read and understand the phase that applies to them. 

Ongoing Messages

There are always concerns about whether FNPF can sustain these withdrawals. Let me assure members that these withdrawals are made with due consideration of the Funds financial position. 

The estimated cost for the three phase extensions, is around $50m, of which Government’s subsidy is about 50%. Currently the Fund’s cash and deposits sit at $570m. 

It is important to emphasise that all these withdrawals are made from members eligible balances in their General Account. The funds in our preserved account is Preserved for retirement. This important change has seen a growth in total members funds held in the Preserved Account, in comparison to the last five years. 

We thank Government for continuing to ensure that members whose general account balance have been exhausted, are still assisted. 

We also continue to thank Employers for their support in helping their staff apply. 

We must also thank our staff and families for their continued commitment and sacrifice. 

The Fund is also engaging more now with our members and will continue to create awareness through talkback shows on television and radio, more Live QnA’s on social media and our fortnightly newspaper articles. 

We encourage our members to take interest and become more aware about the Fund and the purpose of your retirement savings. 

I also take this time to congratulate our nation, as we celebrate the 50th anniversary of our Independence. 

I wish you all a blessed Fiji Day weekend. 

Vinaka vakalevu.

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