Mr Ignatius Baffour Awuah, Minister for Employment and Labour Relations, says only three per cent of workers in the informal sector contribute to structured social security schemes, thus 97 per cent are not guaranteed any formal pension benefit.
The Ministry, he said, would, therefore, work together with the National Pensions Regulatory Authority (NPRA) and other stakeholders to intensify education on the three-tier pension scheme and its benefits towards increasing sign-ons unto structured pension schemes.
“These efforts will help us reduce old age poverty,” Mr Awuah said at a stakeholder engagement, which was held in Accra to address issues affecting the Social Security and National Insurance Trust (SSNIT) Pension Scheme, including plans to merge SSNIT numbers with National Identification Authority (NIA) numbers.
The initiative is aimed at enhancing the ease of doing business with the Trust by enabling a convenient means to allow for Members to solely use the Ghana Card for all their transactions.
This is in line with the National Identity Register Regulations, 2012, L.I. 2111, which requires the use of the Ghana Card as a means of identification for “transactions pertaining to individuals in respect of pensions”.
The Minister expressed the hope that merger would lead to an increase in the number of SSNIT contributors, especially those in the informal sector, in order for them to earn decent pensions.
Mr Awuah urged the Management of SSNIT to fine-tune the processes that would lead to the operationalisation of the law on the NIA card number merger and improve customer experience at SSNIT.
“Once the switch over is completed, I believe all Members of the SSNIT Scheme and newly recruited workers will be able to use their Ghana Card for all social security transactions. This will definitely make life easier for them,” he said.
He charged stakeholders to encourage their workers and colleagues to register for their Ghana Cards to facilitate the merger between their NIA and SSNIT numbers to enable them to access pension service.
“After the merger is done, I am optimistic it will bring down further the average 10 working days it takes for SSNIT to process and pay benefits to retirees. It should also ease the identification of beneficiaries,” he said.
He commended the Management of SSNIT for bringing together stakeholders of the Pension Scheme, saying, “Such a tripartite approach is the way institutions should go in promoting industrial harmony”.
“When organisations engage stakeholders before the introduction of new programmes or initiatives, it reduces anxiety and suspicion from them. This is particularly important in circumstances where the relationship between employers, labour and SSNIT has not always been exactly cordial”.
SSNIT is a statutory public Trust with the mandate of administering the First Tier Basic National Social Security Pension Scheme under the National Pensions Act 2008 (Act 766).
It is charged with the responsibility of replacing part of lost income to its contributors and their dependants due to old age, invalidity, emigration or death.
The pension a Member enjoys under the First Tier Scheme is dependent on the Basic Salary (on which contributions were made) and the number of months one has contributed to the Scheme.
The meeting was attended by Hon. Philip Basoah, Chairman of the Parliamentary Select Committee on Employment, Social Welfare and State Enterprises, Mr Hayford Atta Krufi, Chief Executive Officer of NPRA, Dr John Ofori-Tenkorang, Director General of SSNIT, Professor Kenneth Agyeman Attafuah, Executive Secretary NIA, Mr Dan Acheampong, President of the Ghana Employers’ Association, among others.