ISLAMABAD - Private pension funds were introduced in 2007 under the Voluntary Pension System Rules, 2005 and at present, there are 19 pension funds, out of which 10 are Shariah compliant and 9 are conventional. These funds are managed by10 experienced pension fund managers.

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The pension funds provide participants with options to invest in securities and commodities. Participants can choose allocation policies suiting their risk and return preferences, said in statement issued by SECP here on Friday.

The total net assets of the voluntary pension fund industry are currently over Rs 26 billion contributed by more than 25,000 participants. The fund managers, depending on the asset class, charge fees ranging from 0.5 percent to 1.5 percent per annum. Furthermore, the fund managers can charge sales load up to 3% of the contribution on direct sales and up to 1.5 percent of the contribution if an investor carries out transaction online.

However, the pension fund managers have been prohibited from charging sales load on subsequent contributions made by a participant whether directly or online. Over 65 percent of the assets of the pension fund industry are invested in Shariah-compliant funds.

All persons with CNIC are eligible to become members of pension funds and accumulate savings for their retired life. Participants can choose retirement age between 60 to 70 years.

Upon retirement, they can withdraw up to 50 percent of the accumulated balance in lump sum and the remaining 50 percent in installments. Tax credit of up to 20 percent of taxable income can be availed upon investment in pension funds. Moreover, persons over 40 years of age can avail even higher tax benefits.