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Opinions of Wednesday, 21 October 2015

Columnist: The National Forum

SSNIT at 50: What is there to be celebrated

A former leader in the Organized Labour of Ghana, Mr Seth Abloso has questioned the authority on which the Social Security and National Insurance Trust, SSNIT is seeking to undertake some projects and activities outside their mandate under the excuse of 'celebrating' 50 years of its existence.

In the view of Mr Abloso, "against the background of the disappointing performance of the Social Security and National Insurance Trust in the delivery of retirement income security for members of the scheme, one may ask, What is there to celebrate and who is celebrating what? Is it the trustees calling for a celebration or members of the Scheme?"

This forms part of a four paged petition addressed to the Chief Executive Officer of the National Pensions Regulatory Authority (NPRA). The worried SSNIT contributor or scheme member added emphatically; "The 50th Anniversary of formal Social Security needs to be observed, NOT celebrated. It should be a period of stock-taking and a surgical assessment of the administration of the scheme, focused at addressing the challenges facing the scheme to ensure that it is kept afloat. Is the return on SSNIT's investments satisfactory, who manages the investments?"

"I note in particular that the actuarial study which was done kind of put SSNIT in some danger. If we do not make one or two major decisions, we could endanger the Scheme going into a decade or more – three decades forward......."

Worried about the future of the Social Security and National Insurance Trust, SSNIT in Ghana, the Honourable Minister for Employment and Labour Relations, Haruna Iddrisu is quoted in the petition to have said the above in the Wednesday, May 27, 2015 Hansard of Ghana's Parliament.

Quoting also from the National Pensions Act, 2008; Act 766 Seth Abloso cited Regulation 34(d); outlining the mandate of SSNIT to: "ensure the provision of social protection for the working population for various contingencies including old age, invalidity and death."

Making his argument even stronger, the petition states; "It is inconceivable that the Trustees of the Social Security and National Insurance Trust would seek to assume responsibilities that are not within the remit or mandate of the Trust. I understand that in the operation of the Social Security Scheme, the Trust is to ensure the provision of social protection for the working population for various contingencies including old age, invalidity and death. In doing so, it is restricted to providing for its membership who are contributors to the Scheme. Can SSNIT assume the responsibility of providing for people of all walks of life or its future contributors? It is hereby submitted that SSNIT's Social Protection obligations are restricted and should be restricted to Social Security Contingencies. It cannot seek to take on more to ignite any passion or anxiety anywhere."

Buttressing his point on the Trustees operating outside their mandate, Mr Abloso questioned the motivation and rationale behind the donation of One Million Ghana Cedis (GHC 1M) to the BlackStars as contained in the Dzamefe Commission Report.

He further asked the basis for the funeral donations SSNIT has been making often publicised to the State and Traditional Authorities; donations to benefit potential contributors etc.

In conclusion, the petition recounts that "the Presidential Commission on Pensions appointed in August, 2004 in response to workers' agitations made a number of recommendations towards restoring the confidence of members in the Scheme. To what extent have the recommendations accepted in the 2006 White Paper been implemented? And how are we faring five (5) years into the implementation of the three-tier Pensions' Scheme?"

TNF is monitoring how the NPRA would be addressing this very pregnant petition. Issues of pensions and pensioners have been very worrisome and pitiful to say the least. We see a lot pensioners back in the workforce because they cannot afford to be on the streets begging or lose their dignity. How well is SSNIT at 50years living its mandate?