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General News of Tuesday, 4 December 2012

Source: The Chronicle Newspaper

Scandal rocks pension scheme

Some pensioners across the nation have raised alarm at government’s delay in implementing the Pensions Act.

According to the pensioners, it is at a loss as to why the government is delaying with the implementation of the Act which, they say, will bring an increment to is the meagre stipend paid to them currently.

Speaking to Citi News, some of the pensioners said the money paid to them had seen no upward adjustment since 2009.

“My pension at the moment is GHC 170. What am I going to do with GHC 170? I am even lucky since what I am taking is much, much more than what some people take. Some people take just about GHC 100 a month; I mean it’s not fine.”

Another pensioner also lamented saying, “there are so many mistakes. Some retired staff were not paid at all, some were reduced, the rate they were going was heavily reduced.”

In a related development, IMANI Ghana, a local think tank, has raised concerns about the wrong investment being made with contributions from workers. According to the group, an estimated GHC 300 million of the contributions is yet to be accounted for.

According to a publication by The Chronicle on Tuesday, IMANI Ghana is calling for for proper investigations into the management of the second tier of the pension scheme.

According to the report, the National Pensions Regulatory Authority (NPRA) has refuted the assertions indicating that no money has gone missing as is being alleged by IMANI.

NPRA explaining that the funds, which were collected by the Social Security and National Insurance Trust (SSNIT) on behalf of NPRA, had been invested at the current Treasury Bill rate.

“Following the implementation of the National Pensions Act 2008 (Act 766), in January 2010, the National Pensions Regulatory Authority (NPRA) directed all employers to pay 5% of the Tier 2 contributions into a temporary pension account designed by the NPRA to be managed by the Bank of Ghana,” the paper noted.

This decision was taken because the fund managers who were to administer the funds had not been selected, a situation which according to IMANI, had defeated the purpose for which the pension scheme was set up.

The NPRA has since begun the process to select the fund managers but the financial statements the Authority released regarding the gains it made on the investment using the Treasury Bill rate as a benchmark, has raised eyebrows.

Reacting to the statements, Franklin Cudjoe in an interview with the Chronicle said: “Average interest on the Government of Ghana Treasury Bill rate over the past three years is about 15% per annum (having moved between 9.7 and 23% over the period). Giving the NPRA the beneficiary of doubt, considering that they are not trained and or skilled Fund Managers, one would like 10% per annum return on investments, anything less than that is robbery.”

“Less than 3% per annum as it is the case now per the NPRA’s own issued provisional benefit statement is criminal. If this is not the smoking gun, we do not know what else is,” he added.

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