Management of the Social Security and National Insurance Trust (SSNIT), has held its second meeting with stakeholders to find ways of expanding and deepening coverage of the Basic National Social Security Scheme to self-employed workers.
The meeting, held yesterday in Accra, sought stakeholder buy-in and support to extend coverage of the SSNIT Scheme to the self-employed and workers in the informal sector.
Speaking at the event, the Director-General of SSNIT, Dr John Ofori-Tenkorang, said it has become necessary to extend coverage to informal sector workers not only to increase active membership and contributor base of the Scheme, but also to ensure that every worker in Ghana enjoys social protection.
This, he added will help reduce poverty and over-dependence on family relations and friends during old age.
Presently, a little over 14,000 self-employed workers contribute to the SSNIT Pension Scheme. This low coverage is attributed to the nature of the economy of the country, where most people are engaged in their own businesses and do not see the need to enrol onto a structured social security scheme.
Industry analysts assert that if drastic measures are not taken and implemented to have such workers put on a formalised social security scheme, it will lead to an increase in poverty among the aged in the near future.
The International Labour Organisation (ILO), in its 2019 policy report identifies the situation where many social security schemes primarily focus on providing coverage for salaried employees as a major challenge.
“The gaps in social protection for self-employed workers raises concerns not only for the realisation of their human right to social security but also for social and economic development and the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals, in particular, target 1.3 on social protection systems” the report stated.
In his presentation, Dr Ofori-Tenkorang, explained the benefits of the SSNIT Scheme and the value they provide to Members. These benefits include Superannuation (Old age) Pension, Invalidity Pension, Survivors’ Lump sum and Emigration benefit.
“The SSNIT Scheme pays minimum pension by subsidising pensions for pensioners whose salaries were woefully low when they were in active service or contributors who contributed on a minimal salary to the scheme”.
He added that the “Trust pays you till you pass on and the Scheme provides a life policy by paying survivors when a Member passes on”.
For Members who can no longer work due to permanent disease or illness, the Scheme also pays such Members invalidity pension regardless of age and with very minimal contributions.
The meeting was attended by representatives of the Ghana Private Road Transport Union (GPRTU), Ghana Union of Traders’ Association (GUTA), Tema Station Market Women Association among others.
On his part, the Co-Chair of Abossey-Okai Spare parts Dealers Association, Mr. Clement Boateng, lauded SSNIT Management for spearheading such an initiative to extend coverage of the SSNIT Scheme to self-employed workers.
He explained that as an association, they will carry the message along to their members and encourage them to sign onto the SSNIT Scheme.
“I am very glad that the Director-General himself did the engagement. We have been yearning for such an engagement. Once you are healthy and sound, it is necessary that people contribute to the Scheme and receive the benefits during retirement”, he said.