PIC to an­swer pen­sion in­vest­ment queries

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The mon­i­tor­ing group that over­sees how the Pub­lic In­vest­ment Cor­po­ra­tion (PIC) in­vests the pen­sions of state em­ploy­ees is wait­ing to see if the cor­po­ra­tion can pro­vide sat­is­fac­tory an­swers about some of its un­listed in­vest­ments, such as in In­de­pen­dent Me­dia and the new African Bank.

If the group did not get sat­is­fac­tory an­swers by the mid­dle of this month, it would again re­quest a meet­ing with the PIC, said Adamus Stem­met, the mon­i­tor­ing group’s spokesper­son.

The PIC’s un­der­tak­ing to pro­vide an­swers fol­lows a re­cent meet­ing in Pre­to­ria be­tween the cor­po­ra­tion, the board of trustees of the Gov­ern­ment Em­ploy­ees’ Pen­sion Fund (GEPF) and the mon­i­tor­ing group.

The PIC man­ages about R1.8 tril­lion worth of as­sets. More than 88% of this money be­longs to the GEPF, the money of serv­ing and re­tired state em­ploy­ees.

Stem­met said that over­all, the PIC’s in­vest­ments were per­form­ing well.

“One re­alises that any in­vest­ment can go wrong, but that doesn’t mean you walk into things blindly,” he said.

In Oc­to­ber, the PIC re­leased de­tails of the more than 250 un­listed in­vest­ments it held at the end of March.

These in­vest­ments de­liv­ered a re­turn of 9.68% per year over the past 24 months, ac­cord­ing to Netwerk24.

These in­vest­ments, which amounted to R44.6 bil­lion in the 2015/16 fi­nan­cial year, rep­re­sent about 2.4% of the to­tal in­vest­ments be­ing man­aged by the PIC.

Stem­met said the mon­i­tor­ing group had ques­tions about the R1.27 bil­lion of GEPF funds that was in­vested in In­de­pen­dent Me­dia. This com­pany, un­der the stan­dard of Iqbal Survé, owner of Sekun­jalo In­vest­ments, is sym­pa­thetic to Pres­i­dent Ja­cob Zuma and his fac­tion of the ANC.

The group is also con­cerned about “risky in­vest­ments” such as the in­vest­ment in African Bank, where the GEPF lost R4 bil­lion.

Stem­met said they were also mon­i­tor­ing in­vest­ments with pos­si­ble po­lit­i­cal mo­tives, such as the R1.8 bil­lion which pre­vi­ously went to the Tsh­wane mu­nic­i­pal­ity and the R800 mil­lion which went to Tlokwe shortly be­fore the mu­nic­i­pal elec­tions.

“We rec­om­mend that the PIC first ask the mon­i­tor­ing group if it would ben­e­fit the fund when it wants to do an in­vest­ment for the GEPF. If the an­swer is not an un­equiv­o­cal yes, leave it. Don’t gam­ble with our pen­sion money.”

Stem­met em­pha­sises that there is no dis­pute be­tween the mon­i­tor­ing group and the GEPF or the PIC, but in the past, poor com­mu­ni­ca­tion had led to mis­con­cep­tions, which led to ir­ri­ta­tion.

Ac­cord­ing to him, the meet­ing in Pre­to­ria went well and it was de­cided that the par­ties would in fu­ture co­op­er­ate bet­ter, com­mu­ni­cate more ef­fec­tively and reg­u­larly, and dis­creetly share more in­for­ma­tion.

Stem­met said the mon­i­tor­ing group also wanted to pre­vent un­nec­es­sary de­mands on the state pen­sion fund be­cause cer­tain par­ties thought the money was there for gov­ern­ment’s use.

He men­tioned that state­ments that gov­ern­ment must con­sider tak­ing 2.5% of funds such as GEPF to help pay for free higher ed­u­ca­tion wor­ried the group.

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