A couple of weeks ago, the Social Security and National Insurance Trust (SSNIT), was in the news but for all the wrong reasons.
The state-owned pension funds manager was heavily chastised because of the huge investments it made in the acquisition of Information Technology (IT) systems meant to improve its operations and also make it easy for contributors to get their pensions on time.
It was also accused of engaging an IT professional with questionable credentials as its head of Management Information Services (MIS) whose indecisions or otherwise led to the Trust dolling out millions of United States dollars on a system that seemed not to be working at its optimum.
These, among other things heightened the suspicions of the general public, particularly contributors of the scheme who were of the view that their funds were not being properly managed and thus, called for an overhaul in the management structure of the Trust with a new mandate as part of measures to restore confidence in the public.
While the Graphic Business will not want to draw any conclusions on the allegations, it fully supports the call by contributors for the government to do what is in the best interest of the public so that at the end of the day, the future of contributors will be fully guaranteed under the scheme.
However, we also will also like to raise a few issues which we believe should engage the attention of the government and the managers of the Trust if the scheme is to remain sustainable.
First, the Graphic Business will like to prevail on the government to ensure that contributions of its employees are released on time. What we should not lose sight of is that, the scheme can only be sustainable and relevant if funds are invested on time. This is the reason why it is not prudent for the government to hold funds belonging to the Trust. Where there is a delay, it has to be paid with interest to make up for the returns lost over the period.
For instance, the total establishment indebtedness to the scheme at the end of the year 2015 stood at a whopping GH¢640.89 million with the government being the biggest debtor. This is just unacceptable unless the debt is repaid with interest at the current rate.
Second, we believe that governments should desist from pressurizing managers of the scheme to invest in projects that are political and not social or economically beneficial in nature. We can mention many projects which have been undertaken for political reasons and today, those investments have become white elephants and therefore, a loss to the scheme.
Third, it is also necessary for SSNIT to manage its recurrent expenditures. It is on record that millions of cedis is put into other wasteful expenditures and those become a drain on the scheme.
Finally, the Graphic Business will urge contributors and their employers to ensure they honour their obligations not only on time but to also ensure that the right amounts due to be paid as contributions are done. We should remember that what is contributed is what is used for the calculation of pensions in the long run.
SSNIT, according to the 2015 annual report, is solvent because its investment portfolio continues to grow. It increased from GH¢6.945 billion in 2014 to GH¢7.955 billion at the close of 2015, representing a positive variance of 14.55 per cent.
In spite of this, we know that the scheme can do better if the players, the government, managers of the Trust, employees and employers played their role accordingly.