Measures introduced by the Social Security and National Insurance Trust (SSNIT) in February 2018 to delete ghost names from the pension payroll have yielded positive results. The trust had, as of August 24, 2018, saved GH¢18.1 million following the deletion of 8,366 ghost names. The amount is currently lodged in a designated account at the Bank of Ghana (BoG).
In an exclusive interview on the deactivation exercise in Accra on Tuesday, the Director-General of SSNIT, Dr John Ofori-Tenkorang, said the names of 43,618 pensioners were earmarked to be deleted in the event they failed to go through the verification exercise.
According to data available to the Daily Graphic, 35,252 pensioners verified their accounts biometrically. There were ample public announcements urging pensioners to verify their accounts biometrically, Dr Ofori-Tenkorang said. He explained that the public education campaign went on for six months before the deactivation exercise began.
Prior to the exercise, 734 people above 90 years were on the payroll but 370 were presumed dead because they did not resurface after their accounts had been deactivated.
Additionally, the accounts of 1,471 out of the 9,348 pensioners between the ages of 80 and 89 have also been deactivated following their failure to biometrically verify their accounts.
Dr. Ofori-Tenkorang further disclosed that 6,605 retirees between 72 and 79 years had their names deleted from the list of 33,536 pensioners in that age bracket for failing to verify their accounts. He explained that the exercise was aimed at doing away with ghost names on the trust’s pension payroll, as well as whip up public confidence in the administration of pension funds.
As a follow up to the exercise, he disclosed that the trust had written to all local banks to return pension money that had not been claimed six months after payment. He said the retained funds had been placed in a special account created at the BoG.
He said SSNIT was saving an average of ¢2.6 million a month following the introduction of the verification exercise. Another measure introduced to curb the incidence of having ghost names on the trust’s pension payroll was that all pensioners were required to authenticate their accounts once a year after attaining age 72, he said.
“The system thus becomes self-cleansing. After 72 years, you are expected to authenticate your account annually,” Dr Ofori-Tenkorang explained.
In February 2018, the trust advised the BoG to return pension funds which had been unclaimed for a period of six months. Following the advice, the BoG issued a notice to local banks, directing them to ensure that “all SSNIT pensioners bank accounts in respect of which there have been no withdrawals of monthly pension paid by SSNIT into that account over a period of six months or more should be returned to the designated SSNIT account at the Bank of Ghana”.
The BoG attached the account details to the directive and urged the banks to comply accordingly.
Dr Ofori-Tenkorang told the Daily Graphic that the trust was poised on protecting the fund from being financially abused by non-existent retired workers. He stated that SSNIT had, since August 2017, given several notices through the media, urging retired workers on the scheme to register biometrically with the trust.
According to him, it was announced that those who failed to comply would be taken off the payroll in 2018. He said those people would be put back into the system when they complied with the directive. Dr Ofori-Tenkorang urged the public to support the trust to cleanse the payroll in order to sustain the trust.