The Minority in Parliament wants an amendment to the law governing the Social Security National Insurance Trust (SSNIT) to allow contributors draw on their pensions during the hard times of COVID-19.
The Minority says allowing contributors to withdraw bits of their contribution during these moments will mitigate their plight.
A similar proposal from former President John Dramani Mahama was rejected by SSNIT.
The outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic has resulted in job losses and most businesses collapsing.
Speaking on the Floor of Parliament, Minority Spokesperson on Finance, Cassel Ato Forson said an amendment is needed urgently.
“The spirit of the National Pension Regulatory Authority Act was to save for the future when they are in pension. Mr. Speaker…what stops us from changing the same legislation on SSNIT so that SSNIT will also be able to support these workers in times like this,” he demanded.
The Social Security and National Insurance Trust (SSNIT) is a statutory public Trust charged under the National Pensions Act, 2008 Act 766 with the administration of Ghana's Basic National Social Security Scheme. Its mandate is to cater for the First Tier of the Three-Tier Pension Scheme.
The primary responsibility of the Trust is to replace part of lost income of workers in Ghana due to old age, invalidity or death of a member where dependants receive lump sum payment.
The Pension Scheme as administered by SSNIT has an active membership of over 1,622,748 million as at December, 2019 with over 208,753 pensioners who regularly receive their monthly pensions from SSNIT.
SSNIT and Mahama
Former President John Mahama had called on SSNIT to consider paying some monies to contributors to ease the COVID-19-induced hardships they may be facing.
Speaking during his maiden digital conversation, he said SSNIT contributions are not only meant for pensioners but also works as a form of insurance to cushion members from difficult times such as COVID-19.
But SSNIT in response to this noted that giving such support to the contributors would be illegal.
It stated that “the Trust is a creature of law emanating from the National Pensions Act, 2008, Act 766 which governs the administration of SSNIT and all other pension schemes in the country”.
The Trust continued, “…The benefits His Excellency is suggesting that we pay do not exist in law. To do so will constitute an illegality and a contravention of the provisions of the National Pensions Act, 2008, Act 766.”
Restructure SSNIT pension scheme – CLOSAG
Meanwhile, the Civil and Local Government Staff Association, Ghana (CLOSAG) is appealing to President Akufo-Addo to ensure the restructuring of the SSNIT pension scheme to ensure the welfare of beneficiaries.
Following a revision of the Pensions Act for SSNIT to stop the payment of lump-sum benefits to pensioners from January 2020 under PNDC Law 247, workers who turn 60 years will no longer receive lump-sum payments from the Social Security and National Insurance Trust. Such contributors will now have to turn to the fund managers of their second-tier contribution for lump-sums.
Speaking at its closed-door 2020 May Day virtual celebration, the Executive Secretary of CLOGSAG, Isaac Bampoe-Addo said he believes a review of the scheme will improve the welfare of pensioners.