Time for ‘Single Spine Pension’ Scheme for all

Time for ‘Single Spine Pension’ Scheme for all

The idea of a social safety net for retired workers is a major concern for citizens and policymakers alike in every economy of the world.


And so, when reports hit the newsstands that our own SSNIT will not be in a financial position to pay contributors in 12 years’ time, many workers, retirees and potential workers were worried and rightly so.

The report of the International Labour Organisation (ILO) was based on SSNIT’s financial statement and analysis which points to a rather stark reality of what may happen in the future, even though SSNIT insists that it is financially solvent into the future.

The ILO report also reveals the huge administrative cost as against returns on investments as well as the failure by the state to fulfil its obligations to the scheme as some of the major setbacks threatening workers’ welfare.

Whatever the case may be, it brings into sharp focus recent news reports that propose the cancellation of ex gratia payments to a certain category of workers in this country, which is the Article 71 office holders. 

A recent Supreme Court ruling has declared as unconstitutional the convention of paying the First and Second Ladies salaries under the guise of Article 71 office holders.

It is in line with our current realities that Graphic Business supports the view by the Trades Union Congress, which refers to the current salary structure as a “class system” that only benefits a few at the expense of the collective.

We also share the view expressed by the President, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, who also called on the committee to take a critical review of the existing structure of ex gratia payments to Article 71 holders at the inauguration of the Emoluments Committee recently.

We understand that this particular article that provides for emoluments is an entrenched provision in our constitution for which the process to review or amend has to go through an elaborate process. It is however, doable. The earlier we start, the better.

The argument to amend or scrap it entirely cannot be far-fetched.

First, political office is non-for-profit. It is a sacrificial job. It is the reason we provide for the comfort and luxury of political office holders during their time in office. Free cars, free accommodation, free health care, free fuel, free- you name it, we have it all covered for such duty bearers.

It is, therefore, preposterous and unconscionable that once political office holders exit their positions, the taxpayer must continue to fund their lifestyle out of office through ex gratia payments.

The second is that, all workers, public and private, companies, enterprises and businesses pay taxes. These taxes accumulate into the consolidated fund for the provision of social services.

Yet, we have creatively decided that a certain class of people must of necessity enjoy a larger percentage of what goes into the emoluments payments as against those whose salaries are nothing to write home about.

Article 71, therefore, flies in the face of our very constitution which abhors any form of discrimination. 

Given the kind of living standards in the country, the public sector salaries for Article 71 holders is about some of the best in Ghana compared to those in the private sector.

We have by this provision in Article 71, therefore, created a phenomenon where every young graduate’s ambition is to hold political office without striding through the world of work.

If we aim to build a fair and equitable society devoid of elitism on the back of the toil of the ordinary Ghanaian, then we must build structures that build together rather than create a system for the haves and the have-nots.

The current system is no longer fit for purpose. It is time for a “single spine pension” scheme for all.

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