PIC to answer pension investment queries
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.