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26.10.2004 General News

Pensioners Speak Against Low Gratuity

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Takoradi, Oct. 26, GNA - Madam Rose Afful, a former cook at the Saint John's Secondary School in Sekondi on Monday said she received 470,000 cedis as her gratuity after 29 years of active service. She said she initially received a monthly pension of 16,000 cedis in 1999 but the amount has now been increased to 170,000 cedis. Madam Afful told the Presidential Commission on Pensions (PCP) at its public sitting in Takoradi.

She said it was sad that several people after dedicated services to their institutions and the nation, were not "properly retired" and given such meagre monies.

Mr Peter Y. Viala, another pensioner said the state must establish a Ministry for Pensions to be solely responsible for everything about pensioners.

Mr Viala said the numerous bank charges were worsening the plight of pensioners and making them worse off.

He called for the re-introduction and re-financing of the Post Office Banks for the payment of pensions.

Mr Viala alleged that bank officials steal funds of dead pensioners for investments and do not return such funds to government chest. A memorandum presented on behalf of the Nzema East District branch of the Civil Servants Association (CSA) called on the government to reduce taxation on incomes and pay the differences into workers pension accounts.

They again suggested that a new housing scheme should be introduced for pension contributors and these investments should be repayable in 10 years.

The group called for a decentralisation of car loans in the various departments and agencies to make it accessible to majority of workers.

Mrs Mabel Owusu-Boakye, Deputy Western and Central Regional Area Manager of SSNIT responding, said the major problem facing the country's pensions scheme is due to the low remuneration to workers.

"Until such low salaries were increased and corrected, the country's pension would not be enough for any pensioner" she added.

Mr Thomas A. Bediako, Chairman of the 12-member committee thanked pensioners, workers and the general public for patronising the proceedings and contributing towards the success of the commission. He said the commission is not a court of law and nobody would be on trial for speaking his mind and assured the audience that their memoranda, opinion and petitions would be "treated with care".

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