21 April 2020

The Authorised Superannuation Funds (ASFs) of Papua New Guinea are preparing to process the COVID-19 relief payment recently announced by the Government.

Only members of super funds who have ceased working, effectively losing their jobs as a result of COVID-19, will be eligible for the relief payment.

What is the COVID-19 relief payment?

Members who become unemployed directly due to COVID-19 measures will be eligible to apply for a one-off payment of 20% of their own contributions up to a maximum of K10, 000. This amount would be tax-free to the member.

Who will be eligible for COVID-19 relief payment?

The relief payment will be made available only for members who have lost their jobs as a result of COVID-19.

Members who are still employed, will not be eligible for this relief payment.

Why can’t I access the payment if I’m still working?

The primary purpose of superannuation is to help you enjoy a comfortable retirement when you’ve finished working.

In PNG, you are able to access a portion of your super to support you during a period of unemployment. In these unique circumstances this temporary measure will offer some immediate support to those most impacted.

How do I access the COVID-19 relief payment?

Each Super Fund will have their own process, however members should expect they will need to complete a specific form and provide employer verification they have ceased employment, similar to normal benefits.

Members are reminded that they must apply for the COVID-19 payment themselves. No third party enquiries or lodgement will be entertained. Members must provide their ASF Member ID card or an accepted form ID such as employer ID card, drivers licence or passport.

What if I am still unemployed and need more funds?

If a member remains unemployed after 3 months, they will be eligible to receive a monthly unemployment payment equivalent to 50% of their last monthly salary which is already provided for under the Superannuation (General Provisions) Act 2000 (Super Act).

When will the COVID-19 relief payment be accessible for affected members?

Regulatory changes need to be passed through Parliament to make COVID-19 relief payments lawful. This is expected to happen quickly.

The Authorised Super Funds have commenced work including preparing new forms and making changes to the operational side of benefit payments to enable processing of relief payments once changes in the Super Act are complete.

Is the COVID-19 relief payment government funded?

No – the COVID-19 relief payment is a withdrawal from the member’s superannuation account. Remember taking a relief payment will reduce your balance and will reduce your future interest earnings, and make it harder to achieve a good retirement outcome from your account.

Accessing your super should be a last resort. History shows it’s much better to leave it invested if you can. If you have other support and means to get by, you should use all other measures first.

Find out more

Affected members who want more information should contact their respective Super Funds. At this time all Funds recommend calling or using online services, to help protect themselves and branch staff.

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