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General News of Thursday, 2 May 2019


Deal with pension issues in 3 months - Akufo-Addo orders

The President, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, has issued an ultimatum to the Minister for Employment and Labour Relations to liaise with the Social Security and National Insurance Trust (SSNIT) and the National Pensions Regulatory Authority (NPRA) to resolve all outstanding issues related to pension management in the country without delay.

They have three months to bring all such matters to a closure per the President’s instructions.

The President’s caveat was issued at yesterday’s May Day celebration at the Independence Square in Accra – a tacit admission of lingering issues over the management of workers’ pensions over the years.

There have been several complaints by workers about the management of their pensions by the Social Security and National Insurance Trust (SSNIT).

Many workers have raised concerns about the activities of the Trust, with most feeling shortchanged over their contributions.

Addressing anxious workers who defied the early morning downpour at the May Day parade, President Akufo-Addo said that the critical contribution of labour to the production process, economic growth and sustained development requires that the dignity of organized labour is maintained through to retirement.

“We will build a robust economy and a prosperous society when we put in place a sustainable pension scheme for all workers. For far too many of our people, the end of their lives is marked by poverty. Too many people either have no pensions at all or have inadequate pensions to match the needs of old age,” the President said.

He was concerned that most workers in the informal sector of the economy are without any form of pension arrangement and acknowledged the fact that when they no longer have the strength to work, their lives become miserable.

With about 90 per cent of workers operating in the informal sector, the President indicated that attention must be focused on extending access to that sector in compliance with the National Pension law.

The President said that “at the moment, government efforts are on course to establish a Cocoa Farmers Pension Scheme; this trend would be extended to other worker groups in the informal economy.”

President Akufo-Addo said government was working to reduce unemployment rate in the country in order to widen the base of pensions.

“We are working on an economic transformation agenda through the various job creation initiatives such as Planting for Food and Jobs, One-District-One-Factory, Industrial Stimulus Package, Planting for Export and Rural Development, private sector support schemes, which are all beginning to bear fruit and should soon start reducing unemployment and provide opportunities for citizens to work, earn higher incomes and contribute to their pensions,” he said.

President Akufo-Addo took the opportunity to encourage the government’s social partners, employers and enterprise owners to comply with existing pension regulations and support their staff to contribute to pension schemes.

“We should all spread the news about the importance of pensions and the structures in place to ensure transparent and effective management of pension funds.”

He said that the government, through the Ministry of Finance, has arranged for the payment of GH¢200 million and a bond of GH¢700 million towards the retirement of the arrears owed to SSNIT.

That would leave the outstanding arrears at GH¢800 million, which is expected to be included in next year’s budget.

The President announced that parliamentary approval has been secured for the retooling of the 10 technical universities in the country to provide the youth with appropriate skills for employment.

“We have also got parliamentary approval for all 10 Technical Universities and Technical Institutes to be re-equipped, retooled and rehabilitated,” he said.