Regional News of Tuesday, 20 May 2014
The National Pensions Regulatory Authority (NPRA) has broken its silence on claims that government has erred in holding teachers' second tier pension contributions.
Teachers belonging to the National Association of Graduate Teachers (NAGRAT) and the Coalition of Concerned Teachers (CCT) are on strike over some concerns paramount among which is the management of their 2nd tier pension contributions.
The teachers have accused government of failing to acknowledge the new Pension’s Act which requires that a second tier worker-based pension scheme should be managed by a trustee appointed by the employing bodies of any recognized employing authority.
However, there is a misunderstanding because government has refused to release the deducted contributions to a trustee set up and registered by the Ghana Education Service (GES) since 2010.
The teachers allege that government is using their contributions on their blind side contrary to government’s submission that the amount is being held in a temporary account at the Bank of Ghana.
Speaking on Ultimate Radio’s Morning Show, however, the Manager of Education and Training at the NPRA, Emmanuel Awuku Dagbenu, indicated that the teachers had misconstrued issues.
He explained that the prior arrangement which allowed the GES to appoint a trustee to manage the pension fund under the employer based scheme had been changed by government.
He pointed out that government has now decided to use one corporate trustee for all its employees comprising all public sector workers that receive salaries from the Controller and Accountant General.
The new arrangement he indicated, was not restricted to only teachers but the Health Service Workers, the Civil and Local Government Staff and the Judicial Service Workers.
He said heeding the demands of the teachers will amount to having people on two schemes, a term he described as "schemes with overlapping membership".
“If we want to go with the GES, it will mean if you are a teacher on GES scheme, now government has also decided to have a scheme for its employees and that teacher is also a government employee,” he explained.
Mr. Awuku Dagbenu indicated that government wasn’t entirely wrong in doing so, as the GES wasn’t the ultimate employing and salary paying body for teachers.
“GES could say it is an employer, but who even pays the GES staff and if GES staff is not paid, I cannot hold GES to pay the monies. We can only hold government to pay up the money,” he emphasized.
He also cleared that the amounts collected was in a special treasury fund yielding treasury bill rates contrary to assertions that government could be dipping its hands in there for other government businesses.
“The money is not with the government because the agreement was between the NPRA, the government of Ghana, organized labor, employers and SSNIT; for that temporal treasury fund account and it is not lodged into government’s accounts,” he contended.
He said they were only a neutral and oversight body which is only asking that the teacher unions dialogue with government to come out with a final trust into which the monies should be released.