The Director General of the Social Security and National Insurance Trust (SSNIT), Dr John Ofori-Tenkorang, says the value of pensions received by pensioners is better than any form of personal investments they can undertake.
Using examples, he showed how a pensioner on the SSNIT scheme was better off in the value of funds he or she received upon retirement compared to any form of personal investments.
He was speaking at a pre-May Day Forum held by Organised Labour and the Friedrich Ebert Stritung (FES) on the theme: “Sustainable Pensions: The role of social partners” in Accra yesterday.G
In his presentation, Dr Ofori-Tenkorang began by telling the more than 500 workers gathered at the forum that “SSNIT is generous and good”, which elicited murmurings of protests from the workers.
“I knew I would get such a response from you when I said this,” Dr Ofori-Tenkorang responded to the protest and proceeded to explain his statements.
He said workers were often of the view that they would be better off with their SSNIT deductions if they invested such money in a different investment or savings portfolio, but that was far from the truth.
That, he said, was because all the pension contributions by a worker in active work on the SSNIT scheme, if taken and invested in a treasury bill, would not give the levels of accruals in value as the scheme upon retirement.
He said for a member contributing to SSNIT for 322 months, with a pension right of 60 per cent with the best salary average in three years as GH¢688 monthly, the accrued contribution over the working life would amount to GH¢37,000 or a present value of GH¢45,000.
He said he had computed those contributions for various contributors of the scheme and found that in all cases, the value added by SSNIT was what could be obtained from any private investment.
Dr Ofori-Tenkorang said even with arrangements such as a worker’s survivor or nominee’s benefits, which were a form of life insurance policy, workers, though dead, benefited greatly through their survivors, as they would have paid a premium if that policy was assessed privately.
He said the same applied to invalidity pensions, which currently was about GH¢1 million payments to beneficiariesG
“As generous as it is, you get what you put in,” Dr Ofori-Tenkorang told the workers.
He said although 78 per cent of the 200,000 pensioners currently received less than GH¢1,000 monthly, the scheme was not cheating pensioners because the underlying principle of pension was that what one obtained as pension was dependent on one’s SSNIT contribution.
He added that 50 per cent of the 200,000 pensioners were receiving less than GH¢600, with 25 per cent of active contributors contributing on salaries of GH¢400 and below, while 50 out of 100 contributors were contributing on less than a Gh¢1,000 per month.
He attributed the low pension earnings to low incomes, adding that “75 per cent of active contributors were contributing on low salaries or on minimum wages”.M
Dr Ofori-Tenkorang mentioned the institution of the payment of minimum pensions not below GH¢300 in 2014 and an indexation policy, where pensions paid did not make pensioners worse off, as policies were undertaken to ensure the welfare of pensioners.
He said the scheme was good and generous and appealed to all workers to take advantage of it.
Dr Ofori-Tenkorang emphasised that SSNIT was not in to cheat workers, as the trust was committed to all legal payments under the law.
“SSNIT is not in to cheat workers. It is not in my interest, or in the interest of my board or any staff member not to pay the right amount to pensioners,” he said.O
In his presentation, the Chief Executive Officer of the National Pensions Regulatory Authority (NPRA), Mr Hayford Atta Krufi, underscored the need for SSNIT to maintain and enhance an open system of communication.
He said such openness facilitated the kind of transparency required to effectively manage such a scheme, as well as increase public trust in the scheme.
He commended SSNIT for working around the clock to ensure that all identified bottlenecks in its service delivery were minimised.
Mr Krufi also applauded SSNIT for initiating the GH¢300 threshold policy that ensured that no pensioner was paid below the threshold.
“But for this policy, many pensioners would have received less than GH¢300 because of the low level of their input, which was determined by their low salaries,” he said.
He encouraged workers to advocate the increment of their basic salaries on which their pensions were calculated rather than their allowances, which did not matter in the calculation of pension
For his part, the Country Director of the International Labour Organisation (ILO), Mr Dennis Zulu, who spoke on the topic: “The future of work”, used his presentation to urge workers to seize the opportunities presented by current changes in technology and employment relationships.
Dr Zulu said workers did not have to sit to be driven out of work by technological advancements, but should use the technological changes to support their progress in their work.
The Secretary-General of the Trades Union Congress (TUC), Dr Yaw Baah, said the annual forum was always a platform and an opportunity to discuss in detail topical issues that were of concern to workers ahead of the national Workers’ Day celebration.
He said during the forum, workers unions were able to engage with their major stakeholders on a more direct level on their conditions of service and pensions.
“We continue to engage with SSNIT on how to improve service delivery and remittances to pensioners, as well as all other public concerns,” he said.O