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Is SSNIT top job up for grabs?

BY: Maxwell Akalaare Adombila
Dr John Ofori-Tenkorang
Dr John Ofori-Tenkorang

After almost four years of superintending over the affairs of the Social Security and National Insurance Trust (SSNIT) as the Director-General of the basic national pension scheme, the appointment of Dr John Ofori-Tenkorang, has come to an end and is now up for review.

Dr Ofori-Tenkorang took over the reins of SSNIT at a time when the number of employers paying contributions for their workers was around 54,000 and active contributors were reported at about 1.27 million.

The issue of ‘ghost names’ in the pension payroll was pronounced, reportedly siphoning more than GH¢400 million every year.

Its assets were a little over GH¢8.4 billion and contributors’ statements were literally delivered through postal services.

Current situation

Four years down the line, the SSNIT scheme has added on to its laurels and now boasts assets in excess of GH¢9.5 billion.

The Trust has substantially arrested the recurrent ‘ghost names’ menace, resulting in the deletion of about 11,000 names and savings of more than GH¢500 million.

Contributors’ statements are now distributed electronically, helping them to keep track of their contributions and promoting transparency.

The number of employers and contributors on the scheme, which are key to its sustainability, have also enjoyed tremendous growth.

While employers with the basic pension scheme is now around 65,000 institutions, the number of contributors has risen to about 1.63 million, increasing the base from which SSNIT collects and grows its fund.

Stakeholders’ expectations

The Secretary General of the TUC, Dr Anthony Yaw Baah, said in an interview that organised labour had observed a marked improvement in the operations of SSNIT under Dr Ofori-Tenkorang.

Premising his observations on some of the global standards used to assess the viability of a pension scheme, Dr Baah said key metrics such as care for pensioners, cost of operation, the growth trajectory of the number of contributors and assets and the general image of the scheme had improved, giving hope to labour that the Trust was becoming increasingly resilient.

He said the DG had also developed and maintained a cordial relationship with labour, partly resulting in the relative calm on the labour front since his taking up of the post four years ago.

Pensioners’ perspective

A former representative of the National Pensioners Association (NPA) on the SSNIT Board of Trustees, Mr Ben Asumang, said in a separate interview that Dr Ofori-Tenkorang’s policies had impacted positively on pensioners, citing the reduction in the period leading to the payment of first pensions from an average of 47 days to 13 days as of December 2020 as one such initiative.

“He also ensured that government paid penalty on delayed payment of contributions in accordance with the National Pensions Act, 2008, Act 766.

“Before he came, government could delay for about 10 years and nothing was done but now, when there is a delay, the government is penalised,” he said.

Mr Asumang explained that these helped to boost the financial position of the Trust, partly helping it to continue to pay pensioners their due even in the heat of the COVID-19 pandemic.