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14.11.2003 General News

Reduce Government's Influence On SSNIT - TUC

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The Volta Regional Council of Labour of the Trades Union Congress (TUC) has called for amendments to the Social Security and National Insurance Trust (SSNIT) Law to limit the Government's stranglehold on the Trust, to a supervisory status. According to the Council, the amendment would also facilitate the payment of full range of benefits stipulated in the International Labour Organisation's (ILO) Convention 102 0f 1952 on social security contingencies.

The Council made the call at Ho after discussing the National Health Insurance Act and a research document titled: "Social Security in Ghana", produced by Professor Kofi Kumado and Dr Augustine Fritz Gockel, both of the University of Ghana, Legon, at the instance of the TUC and sponsored by Friedrich Ebert Foundation.

The 66-page document found out that SSNIT’s Provident Fund was supposed to cater for pension and also offer direct benefits towards ill-health and invalidity. But during deliberations on the research findings, it emerged that the benefits stipulated under the Provident Fund regime had never been implemented by SSNIT, except those of invalidity and death.

The Council concluded that SSNIT could meet all ILO stipulated benefits, judging from the assurances given by the Management that contributors' pensions would not be affected by the proposed 2.5 per cent deductions for the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS).

In the Council's view, SSNIT had been cheating contributors to save enough funds, which Governments had been falling on to finance schemes and programmes, which should have been charged on the Consolidated Fund. The Council observed that a section of the NHIS law, which mandated SSNIT contributors to be members of the District Mutual Schemes, contravened the 1992 Constitution on the freedom of association and choice.

It, therefore, asked the leadership of the TUC to work towards the establishment of a Private Mutual Scheme for its members, which unlike the District Mutual Scheme, could cater for workers' dependants as pertains under existing workplace health schemes.

The Council observed that the denial of subsidies to Private Mutual Schemes (PMS), which would be non-profit making was discriminatory because apart from losing 2.5 per cent of social security contributions, workers who opt for Private Mutual Schemes would also be contributing to the Health levy while paying taxes from which the District Mutual Schemes would be subsidised.

The Council expressed reservations about the extent to which rural folks would be able to contribute premiums to enable them to become members of the District Mutual Schemes when they are unable to pay 1,000 cedis as levy for a whole year.

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