The Golden Paper on Fixing Pension Systems in MENA Region

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All Arab countries, except for three, have deficits in their pension funds exceeding 50%. As for the three countries, two of them started their social insurance relatively late and the third one had to significantly recapitalize its fund early last decade. Likewise, these three countries are not immune from deficits of similar proportions during the next two decades if they end up doing the same thing.

Up until now, there is one thing all Arab countries have in common in addition to the Arabic language, which is their sole dependence in their pension arrangements on public pension funds that are run by governments on a pay-as-you-go (PAYG) basis. There is no institutional framework, infrastructure, or regulatory regime for retirement income beyond these funds. These pension funds tend to be quite generous, but are facing increasingly huge funding deficits, making their long-term feasibility a mounting concern. For several years, if not decades, there has been a growing imbalance between the amount of money going into the system, and that coming out of it, leading economists to describe such funds as something of a time-bomb. 

Defined benefit pensions — a guaranteed, “gold-plated” inflation-linked pension for life, based on salary and years worked — are all but dead globally in the private sector, or reformed in the public sector in many countries around the world. This trend was accelerated in the last 20 years as the cost of new pension promises has spiraled due to declining investment returns. Ebrahim argues in this article that government pension funds can be saved by encouraging citizens’ savings, that it’s time to see national companies for pensions in the Arab world, and that it’s now the turn of corporates to create retirement security and pension boom.

About Fintech Robos – For Savings & Pensions Apps

Founded in 2020 in the Kingdom of Bahrain, Fintech Robos is the product of several experts pooling together to revolutionize how financial planning and investment operations can be digitally managed. We are a Fintech company, providing leading-edge technology for savings, investments and pension services.

We pride ourselves on being the first and only GCC originated fintech innovator in this space, serving the needs of local MENA financial and corporate institutions. Importantly, Fintech Robos aims to be part of the solution to the region’s chronic pension funding conundrum. It will do so by filling the current gap in technologies and admin services available that allow the provision of both personal and contributory (Defined Contribution) pension plans.

Golden-Paper-on-Fixing-Pension-Systems-in-MENA-Region

Ebrahim K Ebrahim
Founder & CEO at Fintech Robos | + posts

Mr Ebrahim K. Ebrahim is the Founder & CEO of Fintech Robos – For Savings & Pensions Apps, a project aimed at launching a MENA-wide financial institution for long-term savings and pensions. Ebrahim is an evangelist for household long-term savings and pensions in MENA.

 

Formerly, he was a Board Member at Takaud Savings & Pensions B.S.S. (c), after serving more than 6 years in the company’s executive management. In that role, Ebrahim was responsible for promoting and developing TAKAUD’s strategic collaboration with government institutions in the pension, asset management, capital market and economic planning space. He was also in charge of the corporate pension business in the government-related sector. With this he became a retirement savings and planning advocate, and regularly conducted seminars on the need to save for retirement, and on how employee savings and pension schemes should be governed and administered.

 

He initiated and led the annual Arab Pensions Conference, organized in the region for five years now, and held in the Kingdom of Bahrain for four times. He is also the organizer of the Arab Household Long-term Savings Conference. Ebrahim is a savings and pensions writer and analyst.

 

He joined TAKAUD from Thuraya Satellite Telecoms Co., part of the UAE’s Etisalat Group, where he was Senior VP of Marketing & Corporate Communications, responsible for marketing satellite telecom offerings across a footprint of more than 140 countries.

 

Prior to that, he held key marketing roles in Bahrain’s national telecoms provider Batelco, as well as with ARIG, the Arab Insurance Group. He holds a Master of Science in Communications from Stirling University, UK.