Dwindling pensions to 2020 Retires

By George Ankrah, a journalist

Pension schemes are retirement benefits throughout the world and all workers subscribe to them with their voluntary monthly contributions with the hope to go home and resettle comfortably. In Ghana, the scheme has been managed by the Social Security and National Insurance Trust, SSNIT, with challenges because of bad investments and financial losses to the ordinary worker.

Today, Ghanaian workers are faced with different schemes such as cap 30 for the Security Agencies who retire on huge lump sums. Other workers such as Teachers who are the makers of the nations human Capital, Doctors, Journalists and other indispensable workers in the Public Sector have been subjected to the Tier-Two Pension scheme.

This policy’s implementation started last year and affected the 2020 retired Public officers. It 9is sad, unfortunate and worrying that the scheme has made beneficiaries worse off. While indications on Accountant General’s pay-roll specifies how much beneficiaries are entitled to, the Managers of the lump sum SSNIT paid them GHC10,000 or less depending on one’s salary and contribution as Past Credit when one has served the country diligently for 32 or more years. Meanwhile SSNIT Staff, MP’s and cap 30 beneficiaries receive huge lump sums, working for less than 30 years.

Ghana is not an island in the world and it is reprehensible to see our country treating some of the workers the way they are being treated today. There are few questions to ask; for instance, why should workers’ bona fide pensions and contributions be logged at the Bank of Ghana for years without the Bank paying any interest to the workers?

Who selected the Tier-Two Fund Managers for the beneficiaries of the Fund and over the years what have they done with the contributions of the money? With whom and when did they discuss how much to pay the contributors before they arrived at the 80 percent first payment in which country would this happen or has happened before. When you visit the offices of the Fund Managers you cannot see the Directors or Managers. Those you meet are young girls who cannot answer your questions.

Recently, one of the Managers of Public Sector Workers Tier-Two Funds were asked to provide details of retirees financial Data but they were reluctant and failed to provide the data. Where in this world and under whose Hegemony would this happen? When the affected retired staff raised their concern the President Nana Akuffo Addo pledged to pay the difference when he inaugurated the refurbished Trades Unions Congress Building in Accra.

It is almost a year now since the President promised but nothing has been heard since. A Committee was set up to look into reasons why affected workers were cheated and short-changed. How long would it take the government to come out with its recommendations and its decisions to pay the affected retired officers their contributions. A lot of them have died out of shock. How will their families be compensated? Apart from terribly being short-changed, The Accountant –General’s Department has also defaulted in paying ten years of 2020 retired officers’ contributions to SSNIT, a situation that can best be described as reprehensible and must be resolved with the seriousness and urgency it deserves.

We have the State Audit –Agencies in this country, what is their mandate. The EOCO, CID, Integrity Initiative etc. What is happening? Is i5t a crime to work in some state organizations in Ghana? We are aware our President is a human rights lawyer who believes in the Rule of Law so what has changed? Do we have Parliament in the country and are the honorable members aware of this development? If they are to care about us or we should be beggars and die interstate. Old age should not be criminalized in Ghana because we all aspire to live long to direct and guide our grand and great grand-children to grow and take our place as responsible statesmen. Who are the Investment Directors at SSNIT causing financial loss to the state? The bad investment which caused SSNIT eleven million dollars must not be swept under the carpet because that huge sum could have been used to pay 2020 retired officers. The problem is horrible and must be addressed immediately and now. What has been the role of the National Pension Regulatory Authority NPRA for which they are paid salaries. Yes, reforms are to improve on the lives of citizens and if the Tier-Two Reforms have been badly implemented what do we do? The simple solution is to correct the wrongs. If public pensions should be mismanaged this way, what confidence do we have in mobilizing the private sector to join the Tier-three scheme which is being touted as a voluntary scheme? It is also a farce to start a Pension scheme for cocoa farmers without the other farmers in the rice, shea butter, corn and other food crops being excluded. In fact, the Tier-three scheme for public sector workers is also a shambecause4 most companies and organizations have failed to pay their contributions to the Fund for their workers. This is why it is not enough for the State interests and Governance Authority to assemble so it is for performance assessment. What are the specific criteria? Is it only profit making and for who? Indeed, if proper and positive assessment is done then it should be to the benefit of the workers for their toil and contribution to the success story.

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