Pensions vital to wellbeing

BY: Daily Graphic
Pensions vital to wellbeing
Pensions vital to wellbeing

Today is May Day, also called International Workers Day, a day set aside by many around the world to celebrate and recognise workers for their immense role in ensuring sustainable development across countries.

As has become usual, parades will be held in the regional capitals to be addressed by workers’ leaders. Other people will throng entertainment spots and the beaches to celebrate the day.

The Daily Graphic uses this opportunity to caution revellers to celebrate the day in modesty, as we want everybody whole and alive after the holiday.

This year’s Workers Day celebration is on the theme: “Sustainable pensions for all – The role of social partners”.

We consider the theme apt, as the issue of pension has been dicey over the years, with workers perceiving that the computation of their pensions by the Social Security and National Insurance Trust (SSNIT) lacks transparency.

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We recall the hope with which workers received the new pension law, the National Pension Act 2008 (Act 766), amended by NPR 2014 (Act 883), after their experiences under the old law.

Workers’ expectations were heightened when the President, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, announced at last year’s May Day parade in Kumasi that GHc3.1 billion of workers’ tier two pension funds that had been outstanding had been transferred into the custodial accounts of the pension schemes of labour unions.

We congratulate workers on their sustained fight and the government on paying the money.

But the issue of workers’ pensions still rages, as a couple of weeks ago the Trades Union Congress (TUC) accused SSNIT of short-changing pensioners in the latter’s computation of pensioners’ emoluments.

Meanwhile, SSNIT has come out to debunk the TUC’s accusation, with the assurance that the trust would never cheat workers on pension.

As we have learnt, the issue is before the National Pensions Regulatory Authority (NPRA), which has made some pronouncements on it, while it has directed SSNIT and the TUC to continue discussions to address the matter in its entirety.

As we celebrate Labour Day on a theme on pensions, our hope is that the two parties will iron out their differences and build the necessary trust between them for their mutual benefit.

As the two entities concentrate on addressing their differences on pensions, we want to remind employers that how people live in retirement reflects the image of the organisations they worked for.

Employers should, therefore, take interest in getting decent pensions for their employees by paying them living wages, since the computation of pensions is based on the salary levels of workers — the lower the salary, the lower the pension received.

We say this because we are not happy with the disclosure by the Director General of SSNIT that, currently, 25 per cent of workers contribute GH¢400 or less to the scheme, with about 50 per cent contributing less than GH¢1,000.

Consequently, 78 per cent of the about 200,000 pensioners currently receive less than GH¢1,000 monthly, while 50 per cent receive less than GHc600, with 25 per cent of active contributors on salaries of GH¢400 and below.

This means that 75 per cent of active contributors are contributing on low salaries or on minimum wages, which accordingly accounts for low pensions in the country.

As we mark May Day, may employees use the occasion to think thoroughly through how much they pay workers, while workers must also look at how best they can increase productivity to make the payment of higher salaries and, subsequently, better pensions, possible.
We wish all a Happy Workers Day.