As Scheme Managers Continue Labour Sensitization Tour
The Trade Union Congress (TUC) in collaboration with the Social Security and National Insurance Trust (SSNIT), has organised a regional forum on Tuesday, June 4, 2019 at GNAT Hall, Koforidua to discuss issues related to pensions and benefit computation.
The eastern regional Ghana National Association of Teachers (GNAT) secretary, Daniel Affadu, has expressed his appreciation at SSNIT’s engagement with TUC.
He commended SSNIT for taking participants through benefits computation and for being transparent with information about the SSNIT Scheme.
“I am very happy to be here, and I believe that SSNIT should make these stakeholder engagements a regular part of their public education programmes. The practical presentation on how to calculate our pensions is very good and I have come to know that benefits computation is not complex. I believe that I can easily estimate my pension when the time is due. My colleagues and I believe that the SSNIT Scheme is for workers and as such we should be part of any reform programmes that will enhance it. I would also like to use this opportunity to tell the young working ones to take their social security seriously and plan for retirement now. I was very disturbed when the Secretary General of TUC, Dr Yaw Baah mentioned that during the May Day celebration that just about 1.5 million representing 11.5 percent of the total working-age population in Ghana have access to pension under the Social Security and National Insurance Trust (SSNIT). This meant that over 11 million working people who are mainly in the informal sector do not have access to social security. I believe that lawmakers should put policies in place that will get these 11 million people on to the SSNIT Scheme. I also believe that SSNIT should extend this wonderful public education to these informal sector people to get them to understand this Scheme of ours. The programme has been very insightful, and we look forward to more of these.”
The Director- General of SSNIT, Dr John Ofori-Tenkorang on his part, stated that the SSNIT Scheme is good.
“The payment of invalidity pension is an example of the generous nature of our Scheme. With only 12 months of contributions within the last 36 months, one qualifies to receive invalidity pension for life should an unfortunate event or accident occur. Currently, the Trust spends over 1 million Ghana Cedis per month on Invalidity Pensions.
This is inarguably the most costly benefit payment to the Scheme due to the minimal contributions that most claimants make compared to the length of time the Trust is obligated to pay this benefit. There are several such pensioners in this category who have been on the pension payroll for more than 20 years and yet are below the age of 60 and the Trust is obligated to pay till the good Lord calls them home”
He also mentioned that the payment of a Minimum Pension is a generous nature of the Scheme.
“The SSNIT minimum monthly pension is GH¢300 and this is more than the monthly equivalent of the national daily minimum wage of GH₵287.55. The immediate observation is that SSNIT is subsidizing pensions for a group of pensioners whose salaries were woefully low when they were in active service or those contributors who decided to only contribute on a minimal salary to the scheme.
And the Scheme has been doing this since 2014. Even though subsidization is not legislated, SSNIT does this as part of the social insurance nature of the Scheme.”
Dr John Ofori Tenkorang, added that the SSNIT Scheme applies to every employer and worker they employ.
“It is also open to all self-employed persons. In administering the Scheme, the Trust registers every employer and worker. It receives contributions on behalf of every worker.
As part of efforts to improve prompt payment of contributions, employers can now submit the list of workers and their corresponding salaries online and make payment at designated banks.
Hitherto, all such transactions could only be done at specific SSNIT offices. Often, less than 50percent of employers pay their workers’ contributions by the 14th of the ensuing month which is the deadline for contributions payment.
When this happens, a 3percent penalty per month is levied on the employer and often, my office is petitioned to waive these penalties. Penalty is a misnomer. I say this because when you bring the money in late, it affects investments. Because we need to give you value for money when the time is due for pensions to be paid.”
He added that, the Trust through its compliance officers carries out inspection of employers’ records to ascertain the accuracy of reports submitted on behalf of workers and where employers are found culpable, they often engage such defaulting employers to negotiate flexible terms of payment. But when all else fails, they are compelled to prosecute employers who default in contribution payments or under declare their labour force and salary.
“Even though this is not our preferred course of action, we have to prosecute because the law places a responsibility on us to pay benefits regardless of whether employers have defaulted or not,” he disclosed.
The General Manager of Benefits, Mr Robert Owusu Sekyere, took participants through the practical details of how to estimate their pensions.
He stated that three factors are considered in the computation of benefits. These are the age at which one retires, the average of the best three years’ basic salaries on which one contributed, and the number of months of contributions.
He stressed that the formula for the calculation of pensions is stipulated in the law and as such no SSNIT official can vary that.
The Secretary General of TUC, Dr Yaw Baah, expressed his appreciation to SSNIT for their willingness and commitment in taking this regional tour to engage organised labour on pensions.
He stated that pensions have been a major concern for workers in Ghana and he is optimistic that the interaction between SSNIT and organised labour, will clear any doubts about the Pension Scheme.
He told participants that it was essential for every worker in Ghana to take active interest in their social security and retirement planning.
He charged them to encourage their friends and colleagues to do same.