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02.11.2004 Regional News

Different Pension schemes in public sector unconstitutional.

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Ho, Nov. 2, GNA - A representative of the Volta Region branch of the National Association of Graduate Teachers (NAGRAT), Mr Frank Kofi snr, on Tuesday contended that the different types of pension schemes in the public sector were in contravention of the 1992 Constitution as far as equal treatment of the citizenry was concerned.

Mr Kofi, who presented a paper at the public hearing of the Presidential Commission on Pensions said those in government, including very senior public servants had since 1992 maintained the status quo because they were insulated from the crunching effects of the poor pensions being paid to workers under the SSNIT pension scheme.

According to him, while some category of public sector employees were paid attractive pensions under Cap 30 pension, Parliamentarians and government Ministers and appointees had also established for themselves schemes which rewarded them handsomely after every four years.

He said for example that for as long as a Member of Parliament (MP) is returned to Parliament he or she was sure to enjoy a reward far above what a public servant who had worked for about 30 or more years would have under SSNIT pension.

Mr Kofi also detested the preferential treatment being given to health workers such as nurses and doctors who like teachers are working under trying conditions in deprived rural areas of the country. "The wealth distribution game is not being played fairly by governments", he contended.

Other issues raised included the need to review the law establishing SSNIT with a view to curtailing its monopoly, ensure greater representation for contributors on the SSNIT Board and curtail the extent of government interference in its operations.

It was also suggested that a separate Ministry be created to deal with issues of pension, the aged and housing scheme as a condition for ensuring a secure pension.

The government was also asked to adopt an incomes policy that would ensure better pensions.

It was further suggested that income taxes should be reduced by 50 percent and invested in pension insurance with the mandate that pensions should not fall below the level being paid under Cap 30.

Speakers expressed the hope that the work and recommendations of the Commission would be adopted by any government that emerges after the December 7 elections.

In his opening remarks, Mr Thomas Ango Bediako, Chairman of the Commission impressed on the audience that the Commission, though appointed by President John Agyekum Kufuor was independent, non-partisan and non-sectarian.

This is because the issue of pension is non- sectarian. Mr Bediako said it was unfortunate that for all these years workers attention was more focused on salary issues rather than on better pensions.

He said the establishment of the Commission was therefore, a golden opportunity for workers to bring their inputs to bear on providing a worthwhile pension regime that future generations would be proud of.

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