Re: SSNIT Must Cut Frivolous Expenditure And Keep To Core Mandate - Labour Expert
The Management of Social Security and National Insurance Trust (SSNIT) has noted with concern an article posted online on the above subject.
Management of SSNIT wishes to respond to the issues raised as follows:
(a) The writer refers to SSNIT “wasting” money on Infoshop, a public education programme. We wish to state that Infoshop is an initiative of the University Students Association of Ghana(USAG). SSNIT was invited as a partner to educate and sensitise students on the operations of the Trust and its functions. SSNIT took advantage of the platform to engage the next generation of workers about the Scheme.
(b) We did this because Social Security is a social insurance programme often backed by law to provide individuals with income security in the event of contingencies.
(c) The International Social Security Association (ISSA) in its guidelines provide that members and beneficiaries must be regularly and periodically informed of their rights and privileges as mandated by the legislation policy or decree that establishes the Social Security programmes.
(d) In the case of Ghana, the National Pensions Act, 2008, Act 766 highlights the following: functions of the Trust, the role of employers, role of workers, benefits and qualifying conditions among others. Section 34 (h) of the same Act enjoins the Trust to perform public engagement which is ancillary to the objects of the Trust.
(e) We are acutely aware that the law mandates all workers to register on to the Scheme, but we are also witnesses to the incessant and recurring issues of non-compliance, including worker and employer complicity, under declaration of employee numbers, ignorance of the law and its requirements and a host of others.
(f) The writer cites the existence of the law as a reason not to engage in public education or in this case InfoShop. Contrary to his opinion, our experience shows that the existence of the law does not equal awareness and compliance. Our goal is not to use only the power of prosecution as a compliance tool but rather to create an environment where workers know their rights and the benefits that accrue to them as a result of enrolment. The tenets and the provisions of the laws governing the Scheme can only be understood and complied with when information is disseminated among stakeholders and those who the law impacts. We are not aware of any social security scheme that exists and does not engage in public education.
(g) We must also point out that even though we continue to deploy a multiplicity of methods including, Establishment Visits, Customer Care Clinics, Contribution Updates and Public Education, we still had to initiate over 20,000 court cases between January 2017 and March 2018 to deal with various aspects of non – compliance.
(h) It is therefore in the interest of members, prospective members and beneficiaries to be well informed of their rights, privileges, duties and responsibilities regarding the social security scheme. It is only when our stakeholders are well informed that these infractions will be minimized.
(i) In the specific case of Infoshop, the platform was used to address the following:
▪ Many of the students we interacted with had little or no knowledge of the existence law and its provisions.
▪ Some of the students were contributors who had concerns and queries.
▪ The students were identified as change agents to influence behaviours of members in their communities on Social Security issues.
▪ There were student entrepreneurs who needed Social Security information for compliance.
▪ We also registered hundreds of students who had small businesses or had part time jobs but were not on the Scheme.
▪ There were others who had been nominated for SSNIT benefits and needed assistance.
▪ We were also minded the fact that these students will graduate and become employers, employees and informal sector workers.
▪ We owe a responsibility to our members to socialize the next generation of workers since Social Security is a contract of generations which means the current generation of workers take care of retired members.
BENEFITS OF SOCIAL SECURITY EDUCATION
We would like to conclude with a few of the general benefits of Social Security Awareness.
▪ An informed and enlightened populace means an increase in enrolment and compliance.
▪ Workers who know the benefits of Social Security will not connive with employers to default or reduce contribution payments.
▪ Employers will avoid penalty and prosecution when they are aware of their obligations and the consequences thereof.
▪ Employees will be empowered and demand accountability regarding social security contributions and benefits payment.
We disagree with Mr. Abloso when he says SSNIT is wasting money on public campaigns such as the InfoShop. Indeed, there are millions of workers in Ghana but the Trust has an active membership of only 1.3 million irrespective of the fact that the law makes membership compulsory. Many workers (both formal and informal) are currently not on the Social Security Scheme and the Trust has an obligation to reach and cover them.
The Trust will continue to use establishments visits and registration, employee/employer walk – ins, customer care clinics, whistle blowing as well as public education to get potential and unregistered workers on board. We do not see this as wasteful but rather a worthwhile investment which will yield financial gain in terms of an informed worker base, increase in membership and contributions and ultimately reduce the cost of operations.
Finally, let us not lose sight of the fact that Social Security is a Human Right and every effort should be expended to ensure that this right is not lost, compromised or abused.
Issued by Corporate Affairs Department, SSNIT