£50m from Pensions is Transferred in Tobacco Industry
Northern Ireland government workers help to finance the global tobacco industry through their pensions.
The Northern Ireland Local Government Officers’ Superannuation Committee (NILGOSC) that dispenses pensions for 44,000 employees has invested £48.7m in tobacco companies.
Among the 204 workers represented by the superior body are the General Teaching Council, Northern Ireland Hospice, the Sports Council plus many schools.
It will be rather embarrassing to the bodies, the majority of whom are vigorously opposed to smoking and tobacco use.
More than 2,500 people die every year in Northern Ireland from the smoking-related diseases.
Nevertheless, NILGOSC declared that their priority consists in getting the best profit on pensions. The details of NILGOSC’s investments showed that about £48,785,804 were transferred in five companies, with £34,322,622 placed at British American Tobacco. About £10m are invested in Imperial Tobacco Group and £1.7m in Philip Morris International.
The finance expert Justin Urquhart-Stewart stated that tobacco industry remained a very gainful investment.
“Currently when the economy is rather weak, this is a solvent industry that pays good dividends. Tobacco manufacturers are rapid cash producers and they are send from above for those with a pension deficit to fill,” he stated.
Many people declare that it is incorrect to benefit from an industry that is culpable for thousands of deaths every year in Northern Ireland.
“I think that it was an investment in death. It is time to cancel the idea that planning for a convenient retirement empowers us to invest in painful death of others,” Professor Mahendra Varma, chairman of Northern Ireland Chest Heart & Stroke said at the conference.
The chairman of the Stormont Health Committee stated that it was “treacherous” that workers of councils who adopted no-smoking policies and encouraged healthy living should have their pensions transferred in tobacco industry.
Mr. Wells, who is a member of Down District Council, stated that he didn’t know that his council’s pensions may have been invested in tobacco companies.
“It is treacherous to implement anti-smoking programs and then invest a considerable sum of money in tobacco industry. Last year about 2,000 people in Northern Ireland died from the smoking related diseases,” he declared.
Both the Northern Ireland Hospice and Sport NI declared that they didn’t know about this fact.
A representative for NILGOSC stated that the body is a signatory to the UN Principles of Responsible Investment.
“All pension scheme trustees have a fiduciary obligation in order to operate in the best interests of its members and to sustain an appropriate fund to correspond to the retirement liabilities,” he declared.
In present NILGOSC entrust the selection of investments to its fund managers and doesn’t implement any investment limitations related to social and environmental issues.
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