Business News of Tuesday, 19 February 2013

Source: Daily Graphic

SSNIT reviews investment strategies

The Social Security and National Insurance Trust (SSNIT) has reviewed its investment strategies and policies to energise its investment portfolio.

This follows the introduction of the National Pensions Scheme which has brought some challenges to the trust in terms of contribution rate.

The Director-General of SSNIT, Dr Frank Odoom, who stated this at the Social Security Best Media Reporters Awards night in Accra on Friday, said the contribution rate had been reduced from 17.5 per cent to 13.5 per cent, while benefits had been enhanced by shortening the time to qualify for monthly benefits from 20 to 15 years.

The guaranteed period for benefits had also been increased from 12 to 15 years.

The awards were instituted to help encourage the media get involved in educating the public on social security and also extend corporate social responsibility to the media through the SSNIT media partnership.

Dr Odoom said the trust had invested in the Tema Cenit Thermal Power Plant, owned by CENIT Energy, which is set to add 126 megawatts of electricity to the national grid by the second week of October.

The trust, according to him, had also invested in Sentuo Steel in Tema, a joint venture between a Chinese company and SSNIT, to produce 3,000 metric tonnes of iron rods and construct a shopping mall complex at Dunkonah.

He said SSNIT was paying GH¢50 million on a monthly basis to the 120,000 pensioners on its pension payroll as of January 2013, while it also registered more than a million workers as its active contributors as of that date.

Dr Odoom, however, said pensioner population was increasing about 11 per cent annually, as against workers enrolment on the scheme, which was increasing about four per cent annually.

He said the balance was not good and SSNIT was working hard to register more workers to improve the figure.

He said the trust was open to all manner of workers to contribute to the scheme, irrespective of the work they engaged in, and appealed to the media to encourage employers who denied workers their basic right by failing to contribute on their behalf to do so.

The director-general said SSNIT had employed the indexation method as an innovative mechanism to redistribute pension by treating all pensioners equally, irrespective of their earning while in active service.

He said the 2013 indexation of a fixed rate of 12 per cent and a flat amount of GH¢21.36 per pensioner were applied to give an indexation of 22.6 per cent.

The minimum pension, he added, was also increased from GH¢50.46 in 2012 to GH¢100 this year to help alleviate old age poverty.

Dr Odoom said social security was a basic human right enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (1948) which every Ghanaian must know.

“We live in a society where people start asking questions about social security only when they are about to retire or are faced with the loss of income or the death of a breadwinner who was a member of the scheme,” he said.

He said many Ghanaians remained uninformed about social security and pension, while some workers did not know the contribution rates pertaining to the employer and the worker, and appealed to workers to improve their knowledge on the scheme.

He appealed to the media to help educate the public on social security issues, such as contribution collection, investments and payment of benefits.

The Chairman of the National Media Commission, Mr Kabral Blay-Amihere, who graced the occasion, said SSNIT had done a lot for the media, especially in the area of accommodation.

He appealed to the media to always look at the total contribution of SSNIT to the national economy and carry positive news about the organisation.

Mr Andrew D. Agblobi of the Business and Financial Times was declared the 2011 Best SSNIT Media Reporter and he will undergo two weeks’ training on Pension and Social Security at the International Labour Organisation Training Centre in Turin, Italy, with all expenses paid by SSNIT.

Madam Dzifa Emma Tetteh of the Ghanaian Times and Mr Charles B. Okine of the Daily Graphic also took home a plaque each as their prizes.

The Business and Financial Times won the best print media house award and took away a laptop and a plaque, while Radio Uniiq was presented with a plaque.