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Regional News of Wednesday, 1 May 2013

Source: GNA

Coalition on RTI uncertain about viability of new pension scheme

The Coalition on the Right to Information (RTI), Ghana, has expressed doubts about the feasibility of the new pension scheme to serve the mutual interest of workers due to inadequate information and challenges bedeviling it.

“Numerous criticisms on the way the Pensions’ fund of the second tier was invested over the last year, tend to bring some uncertainty about the viability of the new Scheme”, the Coalition on RTI said.

A statement signed by Ms Esther Ahulu, RTI Project Officer and copied to the Ghana News Agency on Wednesday to wish workers and organised labour a happy workers day.

The Coalition said this year’s theme for the celebration, “Pensions: It is your Right and Responsibility” was appropriate and timely considering the challenges faced by the Social Security and National Insurance Trust (SSNIT).

It noted that SSNIT every year complained about the lack of compliance by employers in the payment of employees’ contributions, but pension entitlement is the right of every qualified employee and the responsibility of every employer.

The Coalition, however, said the issue was whether both employees and employers had adequate information about this right and responsibility, adding “As a result of inadequate information on pensions most workers do not know about their entitlements and claims”.

The Coalition quoted Mr Sam Pee Yalley, Executive Secretary of the National Pensions Regulatory Authority as saying “…low scheme registration rate, lack of proper data on the scheme, unwanted and ill informed criticisms” were some of the challenges facing the new scheme introduced to enhance pensions.

The statement noted it was on the basis of such issues that the Coalition have been fighting for the passage of an effective RTI law for the past ten years, to provide maximum disclosure of information to citizens.

The Coalition said RTI was the touchstone for all other fundamental human rights and; therefore, there was the need for workers to be well informed on their pensions’ rights and responsibilities in order to hold their employers, including Government accountable.

“The need for citizens to know will not only enlighten them but will also promote democracy and development”, the Coalition said.

The Coalition, therefore, reiterated its call on the government to facilitate the passage of the RTI law, which it believes would positively affect all aspects of peoples’ life.

Ghana’s RTI Bill was first drafted in 2002 and laid before Parliament in 2010 but has since not been passed into Law.

Numerous activities had been conducted by the Coalition towards the passage of the Bill but to no avail.

The President, Mr John Dramani Mahama on several occasions, had publicly proclaimed that he wanted the RTI Bill passed into law.

However, according to the Standing Orders of Parliament, all un-passed bills before the House at the end of its term of office reverted to Cabinet to be re-submitted to the next Parliament.

The term of the 6th Parliament of the 4th Republic of Ghana elapsed in January 2013.

It is, therefore, the responsibility of Cabinet to expedite action on the process towards its passage by presenting it before the new Parliament.

The Coalition is, therefore, urging the government to “walk the talk,” adding “We call on all organised labour and workers in general to add their voices, to call for the amendment and passage of the RTI Bill into law now”.