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22.11.2005 Regional News

SSNIT Holds Seminar for Employers in Upper East

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Bolgatanga, Nov. 22, GNA - About 84 employers in the Upper East Region are indebted to the Social Security and National Insurance Trust (SSNIT) to the tune of 560 million cedis, Mr. Imoro Sanda Iddrisu, Bolgatanga Branch Manager of the Trust, disclosed on Tuesday. The amount represents outstanding contributions the defaulting employers are expected to pay to SSNIT as at the end of October this year.

Mr. Iddrisu was making a presentation on the topic: "The Employer: Our Partner in the Prompt Processing of Benefits" at a one-day employers' seminar organised by SSNIT in Bolgatanga.

He identified the use of invalid social security numbers and employers' failure to fulfill their obligations to SSNIT as some of the major impediments to the smooth processing of workers' benefits.

"The tendency here is for most employers to avoid all contacts with SSNIT until they are in need of a Social Security Clearance Certificate for purposes such as bidding for jobs," the Manager observed, pointing out however, that such payments are required by law to be paid on regular basis.

Mr. Iddrisu appealed to employers to ensure that they do not only register their employees, but also forward their Social Security contributions to SSNIT two weeks at the latest, after the end of each month.

He mentioned Old Age, Invalidity, and Death as the three categories of benefits under the SSNIT pension scheme, and declared that it was only with the co-operation of employers that the Trust would be in better position to fashion out a benefits system satisfactory to all stakeholders.

Speaking on "SSNIT's New Image," Ms Eva Amegashie, Deputy Head of the Trust's Public Affairs Department, said in addition to establishing a Customer Service Desk to improve upon efficiency, SSNIT had also introduced a system that mandates all staff to wear name-tags. She urged customers to take note of the names of rude staff and report them to Management.

She announced that SSNIT would come out with a special scheme that would cater for workers in the informal sector, since they also deserve to have security when they get old.

Ms Amegashie made it known that there were currently about 70,000 pensioners on SSNIT pay roll, with a highest payment figure of 66.8 million cedis and a minimum payment of 125,000 cedis. She urged customers not to hesitate to contact the Trust each time they had difficulty concerning social security matters.

Mr Felix Adams, Area Manager of SSNIT, cited the prompt registration of the company, prompt registration and securing of social security numbers for all employees, and the payment of 17.5 per cent contribution by employers on behalf of their workers as some of the primary obligations of employers under the Social Security Law. He cautioned employers against the tendency to under-declare their employees' salaries to SSNIT, saying that it often impacted negatively on workers when their retirement benefits were being assessed. In his remarks, the Regional Minister, Mr. Boniface Gambila, stressed the need for the Social Security Law to take into account the plight of employees who after working for some years found themselves out of job before attaining the retirement age. "They should be allowed to have access to their social security contributions without necessarily having to wait till they are 60 years old," he said. The Regional Minister also appealed to SSNIT's management to expedite action on the payment of benefits for aged pensioners in the region to save them from having to travel down south in pursuit of such claims.

Mr. Richard Ampadu, Operations Co-ordinator at SSNIT headquarters, chaired the function. He observed that more than ever before, the introduction of the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS) had made the need for employers to pay their workers' contributions to SSNIT, to enable those employees to have access to quality healthcare. He also urged pensioners in the Region to register and join the Social Security Pensioners Association.

Concerns raised by attendants during an open forum included a review of the guarantors system under the students' loan scheme, social security contribution payments for casual labourers, the possibility of professional proceeding on further course to use their SSNIT contributions as guarantee for accessing student loans, and the need for a review of the Social Security Law itself.

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