Need for fair and just pension for workers

Revelations by President Akufo-Addo that the Minister of Employment and Labour Relations should liaise with the Social Security and National Insurance Trust, SSNIT, and the National Pensions Regulatory Authority, NPRA to bring finality to all outstanding pension related issues in the next three months is indeed music to the ears. President Akufo-Addo at the May Day parade this year assured workers that government will pay Nine hundred million Cedis arrears it owes SSNIT whiles the remaining ¢800 million would be settled next year.
The question on the minds of most people is whether this payment includes interest. This is indeed most welcome especially to public sector workers who rely mainly on SSNIT for their livelihood after retirement. SNIT is a statutory Public Trust charged under the National Pensions Act 208, Act 766 with the administration of Ghana’s basic National Social Security Scheme. Its mandate is to cater for the first of the three tier Pension Scheme. The fact is that SSNIT is funded mainly from workers contribution. The scheme is self-financing through the contribution of members and returns on investment of the funds. The contribution rate is 18.5%. The worker gives 5.5% of his/her salary every month whiles the employer contributes 13% of the earnings of a member.
True to the mandate, SSNIT has invested these monies mainly in the housing, hotel, health, transportation and educational sectors. It also has equity in many organisations and institutions. Nevertheless, it is an open secret that some of its investments turned out to be white elephant yielding little or no returns. This is largely due to poor investment decisions and lack of strategic planning. In recent times, retirees have protested low pension receipts from SSNIT with many accusing the Trust of short changing them. Some pensioners, we are told receive as low as three hundred Cedis a month.
According to the Director-General of SSNIT, the highest paid pensioner for this year receives fifty-five thousand Ghana Cedis a month with the second person ¢50,000. We ask, what is the basis of calculation and how much these people were earning while in active service to be getting such a huge amount? This is against the background that SSNIT pension is calculated by multiplying the contributor’s best thirty-six months average salary by the Pension Right which is two-point five percent for each year of contribution for the first fifteen years and one-point 125 percent for every additional year up to a maximum of sixty percent. Some workers point to the huge disparity between the SSNIT pension and those of their counterparts on Cap 30.
Recently, some Police personnel were reported to have wailed when rumours went around that they were to be placed under SSNIT Pension instead of Cap 30. After long years of service to the state, it is the expectation of every worker to live comfortably with the SSNIT Pension but lo and behold this is not so. Pension days have turned into nightmares instead of period of relaxation and rest    It is sad to note that workers sacrifice a lot for their employers and some even work under strenuous conditions, sometimes at the peril of their lives but their earnings are nothing to write home about. Some employers do not pay their workers social security depriving them of the inherent benefits. This is the reason why some workers are tempted to reduce their age to avoid going on retirement because of the low pension. Pension days have become gloomy to the ordinary worker. It is imperative therefore to take another look at the Single Spine Salary Structure which informs how a worker is paid at the end of the month. The worker's umbrella body, TUC must sit up if we are to take them seriously. Management of SSNIT must desist from gambling with workers contributions.
It is sad that some officials of SSNIT including the former Director General are before court for allegedly causing financial loss to the state. This, some believe is just a tip of the iceberg considering the level of corruption at SSNIT. The Trust must launch a programme to educate workers on their contributions, returns on investments made with them and what they are likely to receive when they go on retirement. This will prepare their minds and make them adjust accordingly. Workers must also check with their managements regularly to verify payments of their SSNIT Contributions before they proceed on retirement. The SSNIT pension is in the interest of workers and must be strengthened to ensure workers live a fulfilled life after retirement.
By Justice Mingle. A Journalist


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