Business News of 2014-07-01

‘We want to manage our pension funds’

Four organised labour groups have given the government up to July 14, 2014 to transfer their second-tier pension funds to their preferred fund managers or face their wrath.

“We refuse to remain unconcerned when it is obvious that the government’s actions and inaction in the implementation of the Mandatory Occupational Pension Scheme point to the eventual collapse of the three-tier pension scheme,” they stated.

According to the groups, they would use every means possible to resist all attempts by the government to appoint the Pensions Alliance Trust (PAT) Limited as a sole trust to manage their second tier pension funds.

The Groups

The four groups — the Health Services Workers Union (HSWU), the Ghana National Association of Teachers (GNAT), the Judicial Service Staff Association of Ghana (JUSAG) and the Civil and Local Government Staff Association of Ghana (CLOGSAG) — said the government’s imposition of the PAT on them was stifling the smooth implementation of the second-tier pension scheme.

At a press conference organised in Accra yesterday, the Deputy General Secretary of GNAT in charge of Labour, Mr Awotwi Nkansah, on behalf of the groups said “the appointment of PAT as the sole trust could be described as blatant use of force in a situation where the government has not provided any guarantee for workers as regards the minimum lump sum that they could be paid as beneficiaries”.

He said with respect to monthly contributions towards pension, the amount contributed by both the employer and the employee belonged to the worker and that was supported in the National Pension Act 2008 (Act 766).

“In as much as it will be morally wrong to take control of money that does not belong to you, we deem it puzzling that the government would find it convenient to unilaterally enter into a contract with the PAT to manage the contributions of each public service worker in the various public services,” Mr Awotwi added.

The NPA 2008 (Act 766)

The NPA allows contributors to choose their own trust and, according to Mr Awotwi, all the four groups had their own trusts, made up of the Health Sector Occupational Scheme set up by the HSWU, the Ghana Education Service Occupational Pension Scheme of the GNAT, the Judicial Service Occupational Pension Scheme of the JUSAG and the Hedge Master Trust Occupational Pension Scheme for CLOSAG members.

According to him, the trusts had been approved and licensed by the National Pensions Regulatory Authority (NPRA) to operate the second-tier pension scheme and, therefore, it was not right for the government to appoint a company that had not obtained a registered and licensed scheme by the NPRA as the sole trust for all public service workers.

He intimated that the second-tier or occupational pension scheme was a defined contribution scheme where workers bore the brunt of any mismanagement of the funds, as well as the risk of investment.

Mr Awotwi said nowhere in the NPA was it stated that the government should appoint a trust and impose a scheme on workers.

“The public services of Ghana comprise independent and autonomous services and, therefore, they cannot be lumped together for the purpose of running the second-tier occupational pension scheme.

“By imposing PAT on workers within the public services, the government is needlessly boxing our members in the various public services into a corner in a scheme in which the worker has the right to port, that is, move membership to a trust of his/her choice,” he said.

“We wish to state that if by the 14th of July, 2014 directives have not been issued for the transfer of funds to the various public sector schemes, we shall advise ourselves,” he added.