21.09.2005 General News

Commission on Pension solicits inputs

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Accra, Sept. 21, GNA - The Presidential Commission on Pensions is soliciting contributions from interest and stakeholder groups into its final report expected to be presented to the Government by the end of the year.

The full text of the interim report already presented to the Government, would be posted on the Ghana Government website. The Commission has set up to October 31, 2005 for the stakeholders and the public to make inputs into, and enrich the preparation of the final report.

Mr T. A. Bediako, Chairman of the Commission, said at a press briefing in Accra on Wednesday that evidence available to the Commission pointed to inadequate pensions, which was in principle as a result of low salaries.

The Commission also reviewed supplementary pension schemes, retirement ages, pension increase policy, iniquity coverage and eligibility, basis for computation and Management and Administration and Existing Pension Schemes.

Mr Bediako said the Commission proposed a three-tier new pension structure two of which would be mandatory and a voluntary scheme. Under the first tier, the Social Security and National Insurance Trust (SSNIT) would be structured, and be retained in part as a mandatory State Social Security Pension Scheme that would pay only regular monthly and other benefits, with the exception of the 25 per cent gratuity payment.

The Scheme would receive five per cent contributions from the employee and the employer's contribution of 12.5 per cent would be paid to SSNIT. The second tier, which would also be mandatory, would be an occupational pension scheme, for which the minimum total contribution should be legislated but must not fall below five per cent. Out of the minimum five per cent to be legislated, four per cent would be hived off SSNIT, while the employer and employee contributed the remaining one per cent.

Under the third tier, the Commission proposes a privately managed personal pension scheme, offering attractive tax incentives. The interim report of the Commission expressed concern about the lack of a formalised social insurance scheme that provided retirement income for the informal sector.

The sector is made up of organised groups such as the Ghana Coffee, Cocoa, Coffee and Sheanut Farmers Association and Ghana Private Road Transport Union comprising vehicle owners, drivers, their mates and bookmen as well as the self-employed. The Commission is of the view that the approach to be adopted for improving coverage of the informal sector should be one akin to a voluntary operated one in Senegal and thus recommended it for evaluation and further study, citing Section 6(a) of Article 37 of the 1992 Constitution.

The Section enjoins the State to ensure that contributory schemes are instituted and maintained that will guarantee economic security for self-employed and other citizens of Ghana. The Commission also advised the Government to design and introduce a National Policy on the Aged to consider free and substantially subsidised transportation, reduced tickets fees to public and social events, free medical treatment for pensioners and the aged. 21 Sept 05

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