Ghana’s 62nd Republic Day And International Pensions Day

Ghana's 62nd Republic Day And International Pensions Day

NEWS COMMENTARY ON THE 62ND REPUBLIC DAY WHICH COINCIDES WITH INTERNATIONAL PENSIONS DAY

BY: GEORGE ANKRAH, A JOURNALIST.

As Ghana marks Republic Day today, many are those who are questioning whether the nation is on course with the values of our forefathers, namely the values of patriotism, volunteerism and sacrifice to the nation and state? The answer needs to be reflected on by all Ghanaians. Today, Senior citizens of the state, particularly Pensioners, who sacrificed their whole life feel neglected and side-lined. Meanwhile, old age or pension is supposed to be a blessing to society and families as a whole. As such, in the so called developed world, pensions are pegged at 65 or more years, provided the worker is of good health and sound mind, because experience is always required in every work environment to enhance efficiency and productivity. In Ghana, the pension age is 60, and no matter your mental status or experience, you are to go home. Those who are given contracts after their pension, get it because of miraculous reasons. As we mark the republican day and pensions day today, we need to take stock of our achievements and failures as well as challenges, which without any debate are caused mainly by corruption, greed and neglect and change the status quo for peace, happiness and the value for sacrifice to prevail in the country.

The challenges, concerns and requests of pensioners are well known to Government, both previous and today, but without mincing words, have remained insensitive to these unfortunate situations these categories of senior citizens find themselves. This is what is contributing to low pensions and causing the early death of pensioners. Is it reasonable for Government and Private Sector workers to be paid pittance as their basic salaries, while so called Article 71 office holders take home monthly whooping sums of money, with free fuel and other benefits? Is it also reasonable for these categories of Office holders to be paid ex-gratia in millions of Ghana cedis after four years of service, when workers who committed themselves to 30 or more years are short changed with pension schemes that turn out to be a sham.

In this 21st century, Ghana is implementing different pensions schemes.  Article 71 for the security services, while public sector workers are placed under Tier-two pension scheme with a meager take home. Why the discrimination? Is this based on productivity assessment, risk factors, educational qualification or what are the bases?  Today, some pensioners have not been paid their entitlements for more than twelve years, since they retired, just because governments upon governments do not care about those categories of workers, who sacrificed their all, to serve mother Ghana. Will it be too much to ask; what crime have those pensioners committed? These pensioners cannot access healthcare, because they lack the financial resources to do so.  Just go to the Banking Halls and you will see the conditions of pensioners. It will make you sad and teary. Those in active service would very soon join the queue and it is our hope and prayer that you will not be sad. In fact, one irony in some organizations is that of discrimination when it comes to pension benefits, such as send-off parties and recognition. For whatever consideration, one cannot tell?  Is it, who you know or what?  Just last week, the Minister for Trade and Industry, Allan Kyeremanteng, said Public Sector Workers should start doing some business or go into Entrepreneurship before they go on pension, in order that they can survive? This is not bad idea. But how can a Journalist go into business and work efficiently as expected in the public service? Which of these two works take precedence over the other, since we deal with time and deadlines? Will that not conflict with worker’s time and delivery in general?

Ghana's 62nd Republic Day And International Pensions Day

Today, the Controller and Accountant General`s Department, CAGD, is withholding the 2020 workers SSNIT contributions beyond their mandate. The Department continues to say it will pay with interest. Two years running, the Department has failed to pay. The major actor, the state is quiet, while the bonafide owners, who are pensioners, are suffering.  What kind of society are we building? Meanwhile, these officers are well paid and they go home with good pension benefits.

Let us reflect, as we mark International Pensions Day today and also, let us all, particularly government, the Ministries of Labour Relations and Finance, TUC, our wives, children and families do the needful to play our roles and support to make life bearable for pensioners in the country. Let us also be reminded once again, that a nation which does not recognize its heroes and senior citizens is not worth dying for. Some pensioners are worse off because of the challenging economy and sky rocketing prices of goods and services. Something must be done to cushion them from deteriorating conditions. Let us get back to the drawing board as good managers of the economy to address basic wages and salary challenges once and for all and spare pensioners from becoming beggars. This will be unpardonable and Pensioners deserve better.

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