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23.11.2005 General News

SSNIT launches 40th anniversary

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Accra, Nov. 23, GNA - Social Security and National Insurance Trust (SSNIT) began its 40th anniversary celebrations with the launching of its Service Charter on Wednesday, pledging improved quality service delivery and calling for adequate national response to low salaries paid to workers in Ghana.

Mr Kwasi Osei, Director General of the Trust, linked payments of benefits to the incomes or earnings by most contributory schemes the world over, but noted, that "low incomes in this country continued to make the Social Security Scheme unpopular".

He stated that for far too long, the Scheme had been the only source of retirement income for members and expressed optimism that the Presidential Commission on Pensions would address agitations for improved benefits and unfulfilled expectations for members arising out of apparent inadequacy of the Scheme.

Mr Osei said the Scheme was introduced in 1965 as a Provident Fund to provide for the retirement needs and other contingencies of the working population.

Its benefits were essentially the return of contributions and interest accrued, but the Fund had now changed to a pension scheme offering periodic monthly payments till death.

The administration of the Scheme was initially vested in the Government Department of Pension and the State Insurance Corporation, but SSNIT, set up as a single body corporate in 1972, took over its administration with the fund contributing to the socio-economic development of the country, Mr Osei said.

It is now in both residential and commercial real estate development, the hospitality industry and a catalyst in the development of Ghana's capital market and the implementation of a students' loan scheme among other portfolio.

He said despite its challenges it had become a model now studied by other African countries.

Mr Osei said SSNIT's activities like registration, collections, record keeping and benefits processing had all undergone changes and the launch of the SSNIT Customer Service Charter was aimed at improving efficiency to meet expectation of members.

SSNIT promised in the Charter to provide reliable care for all its customers, treat every customer as a special guest and satisfy all customers.

Mr Osei said the vision of the SSNIT was to develop SSNIT into a world class financial institution dedicated to the promotion of economic security of the Ghanaian worker. He added that the launch of the Charter was the final phase of the Customer Service Improvement Programme, which began in 2002.

He said the Trust would invest and utilise appropriate and relevant technology on the market to improve its operations.

Deputy Finance and Economic Planning Minister, Dr Anthony Akoto Osei, who launched the Charter and the Anniversary, lauded SSNIT on its efforts to enhance service delivery.

He, however, observed that there was disregard for customers among a number State and public institutions, blaming it on the monopoly they enjoyed.

He reminded such organisations of the stiff competition for customers that required re-orientation of employees to focus on quality customer service delivery.

"The mentality of employees lording it over customers and even making their interests paramount over those of customers cannot stand the test of time."

Dr Akoto Osei reminded the SSNIT that contributors to the Scheme would hold its (SSNIT) employees to the standards of the Charter, and urged the Trust to make available the personnel and technology to provide the quality services enshrined in it.

Aside the launch of the Charter, other activities planned for the Anniversary are Employers' Awards at the area level, National Awards Night, launch of an artist's impression of the Pensioners' Recreation Centre and a thanksgiving service.