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 the Social Security and National Investment Trust (SSNIT).
According to President Akufo-Addo, who made this known yesterday at the Workers’ Day parade held in Accra, the amount will leave arrears of GH¢800 million, which will be included in next year’s budget.
The President’s disclosure followed a plea from the Trade Union Congress (TUC) that the government pay arrears owed SNNIT to save the scheme.
Articulated by the Secretary-General of the Trades Union Congress (TUC), Dr Anthony Yaw Baah, the government’s failure to settle its debts owed the pension scheme was a factor hindering progress in the pension system, especially the second tier occupational scheme.
Though the government transferred over GH¢3 billion to the public sector second tier scheme in 2018, Dr Baah described it as “a small step in the right direction,” and added that “government still owes SSNIT and second tier schemes millions, if not billions of Ghana cedis…”
According to him, the country could not expect its pension schemes to perform effectively if the government fails to pay social security contributions for its over 600,000 workers.
He then appealed to President Akufo-Addo to change the narrative.
While at it, Dr Baah observed that if there would be any cause for the collapse of pension schemes, the persistent non-payment of contributions by the government cannot escape blame.
However, President Akufo-Addo, speaking on the theme, “Sustainable Pensions for all: the role of Social Partners”, charged the Minister for Employment and Labour Relations, Ignatius Baffour Awuah, to liaise with the appropriate stakeholders to settle outstanding issues in the next three months.
“I acknowledge that there are unresolved issues with the Social Security and National Insurance Trust (SSNIT) and the NPRA. I have asked the Minister for Employment and Labour Relations to liaise with SSNIT and NPRA to bring finality to all outstanding issues in the next three months,” he said.
On the payment of arrears, the President said he had information “that 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 SSNIT. This will leave arrears of GH¢800 million, which will be included in next year’s budget.”
“In much the same way that we should build trust between workers and the new private pension companies, it is equally important that there is trust between workers and the state established SSNIT,” he added.
He gave the assurance that the government will build a robust economy and prosperous society, when it put in place a sustainable pension scheme for all workers, adding that many people end their lives in poverty, a development, he said, must be changed.
He also said: “Too many people either have no pensions at all or have inadequate pensions to match the needs of old age. In the informal sectors of the economy especially, most people work without any thought to pension coverage, and when they no longer have the strength to work, their lives become miserable.”
Reminiscing some years back when children took responsibility of their aged parents, something, he said, could be hard to find in present societies, it was the hope and prayer of the President that the values and culture of the Ghanaian people did not fade off.
“Since about 90% of workers operate in the informal sector, we must focus our attention on extending access to that sector in compliance with the National Pension law. At the moment, the government’s efforts are on course to establish a Cocoa Farmers Pension.