The Federal Mortgage Bank of Nigeria (FMBN) has launched an electronic platform for collection of National Housing Fund (NHF) deductions from employers of labour.
The Managing Director, FMBN, Mr. Gimba Ya'u Kumo, who disclosed this in Abuja at the weekend said that it would address a number of problems facing the NHF scheme, such as 'refusal of some employers to deduct their employees' NHF contributions, failure of some employers to remit NHF contributions after deducting such contributions from their employees and failure of some employers to provide remittance schedules to FMBN. All these sharp practices enable some unscrupulous employers of labour to misappropriate NHF monies or even embezzle such funds.'
Called the NHF e-collection platform, the device makes it possible for NHF deduction, collection and remittance to be done electronically by all designated commercial banks in Nigeria through their existing information technology structures.
Kumo said that once a designated NHF collection bank is issued instructions by an employer to pay monthly salaries to its employees' bank accounts, the corresponding NHF components of the salaries will be automatically deducted and instantly channeled into a dedicated NHF collection account.
He also said, 'A payment schedule indicating the identity of each employee and amount contributed by the employee is also automatically generated and the FMBN immediately credits each contributor's NHF contribution account with the corresponding amount remitted for that month.'
Essentially, the NHF e-collection platform would help promote transparency and accountability in the collection of NHF and make it possible for more eligible Nigerians to access NHF loans for building, renovation or purchase of residential houses.
'For example, the platform will make it easy for NHF contributors to check their NHF contributions using the NHF e-cards on any ATM machines nationwide, the amount of money they have contributed to the NHF scheme and thus be in a position to know if their employers are making the appropriate NHF remittances as and at when it is due.
'The NHF e-collection platform is embedded with features that secure contributors' contributions and indeed the system instantaneously sends an SMS alert to the contributor's mobile phone once the NHF deduction hits the NHF collections account. In addition, each contributor is registered and issued NHF e-collection card with similar security features as the normal ATM card. An NHF contributor also has the option of using personal details to log-on to the FMBN web portal to view up-to-date records of his or her NHF contributions.
'However, no withdrawals can be made from the NHF account until the contributor satisfies the requirements for refund of contributions as specified by the NHF Act 1992,' the bank chief executive explained.