In the last few weeks, contributors to the various pension schemes in the country have become alert, demanding transparency and accountability in the management of their contributions.
These agitations were sparked by reports of the heavy investments made by the state-owned pension funds manager, the Social Security and National Insurance Trust (SSNIT), in some information technology systems.
At the Graphic Business/Stanbic Bank Breakfast meeting in Accra yesterday to discuss issues about pensions, participants reiterated their anxiety over the way the trust is either investing or managing the contributions of workers.
The Daily Graphic fully supports calls on the managers of the scheme and the government to do what is in the best interest of workers to earn their trust.
We believe that the future of contributors has to be fully guaranteed and, therefore, any concerns raised over the management of the funds should not be taken for granted.
However, we wish to raise a few issues which we believe should engage the attention of the government and the managers of SSNIT if the scheme is to remain sustainable.
We believe that the government has an obligation to release its share of employees’ contributions on time to enable the managers of the trust to invest and earn some interest to maintain the scheme as a going concern.
To us, it is not the best for the government to owe the scheme, only to pay after many months, sometimes years. For instance, the total indebtedness to the scheme at the end of 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.
It is paramount to note that the scheme can only be sustainable and relevant if funds are invested on time. We agree that sometimes the government may be in need of funds to undertake some development projects.
We are also aware that in many instances, the government has used the trust as the last resort for a bail-out. For instance, there are many occasions when pressure is mounted on the managers of the scheme to undertake certain projects which are only politically expedient but not socially valuable and, therefore, their impact on the solvency of the scheme cannot be guaranteed.
The Daily Graphic thinks the managers of the scheme cannot escape blame for the high recurrent expenditures and the questionable investments that are made. Most of the expenditures have gone bad and are creating problems for the scheme because instead of generating some income, they have rather become an albatross around the neck of the trust.
The Daily Graphic prevails on workers and their employers, especially the government, to ensure that they honour their obligations on time and also ensure that the right amounts due are paid.
We trust that if the right checks and balances are observed and the right investments made, the scheme will continue to provide ‘succour’ for pensioners.