Accra, July 1, GNA - Government in conjunction with the Social Security and National Insurance Trust (SSNIT)has launched a four-year strategic plan to improve its service delivery and minimize the problem of late payment of pension entitlements.
President John Agyekum Kufuor, who announced this on Tuesday, said this was to enable SSNIT pay pensions within a month after claim had been duly lodged. "I would entreat the management of SSNIT to pursue this goal with dispatch. Ideally, retired persons should not have to borrow money to start their new lives", he added.
President Kufuor was speaking at a Republic Day Luncheon for Senior Citizens at the Banquet Hall in Accra.
It was organised by the National Celebrations Planning Committee (NCPC) as part of activities marking the 43rd anniversary celebrations of Republic Day. President Kufuor said in Ghana, poverty in retirement resulted from inadequacy of pension benefit as well as lateness in its payment and the inadequate pension benefit was directly related to low earnings during the pensioner's working career.
He said partly because of the very low salaries and wages paid in the country now, Ghana ranked among the lowest in the world in terms of savings rates and was therefore, very vital that the economy was revitalized to support the payment of realistic salaries and wages.
"This would enable the worker to meet his or her living expenses and leave a margin for savings towards a rainy day and retirement", he added. aPresident Kufuor appealed to the self-employed in the informal sector of the economy to begin contributing to the SSNIT pension scheme, while owners of small-scale businesses keep faith with their employees and register them with the scheme.
He said this would be an ideal way to ensure a secured and peaceful retirement for all workers and not only those in the formal sector employment. President Kufuor said a pensioner with limited income and ill-health was a constantly threatening menace and the government's proposed health insurance scheme would assist the aged to access health care.
He gave the assurance that government recognized the vulnerability of the aged and by extension, government was taking their special circumstances into consideration in designing the scheme.
President Kufuor said it was important for health officials, chiefs, religious leaders, officials of district assemblies and the public to show keen interest in the scheme when it becomes operational and learn to understand it thoroughly because it would cover, not only people in the urban areas but the rural areas as well.
President Kufuor, on arrival at the hall and accompanied by the Vice President, Aliu Mahama shook hands with the guests who after their meals were entertained to music and dancing by the Ghana Dance Ensemble, C.K. Mann and the Ghana Police Service Band.