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17
Sun, Dec

Return workers tier two pensions to their appointed trustees

Mr Isaac Bampoe Addo, the Chairman of the Forum

The government has begun a formal engagement with the Forum of Public Sector Registered Pension Scheme towards finding an amicable solution to the protracted tier two pension contributions of public sector workers into their registered schemes.

The scheme, which is mandatory for all employees, but privately managed and designed primarily to give contributors higher lump sum benefits than presently available under the SSNIT or Cap 30 pension schemes, is expected to cushion workers on retirement.

The pension reform in Ghana was in response to agitations from organised labour and pensioners on the inequalities in retirement benefits among public sector workers, as well as inefficiencies in the SSNIT system, then the sole quasi-state pension manager.

Currently, four independent schemes have been licensed and approved by the National Pensions Regulatory Authority (NPRA) to handle the second-tier occupational pension scheme for public sector workers.

The government was required to transfer all contributions, including returns, to their respective approved schemes, within 90 days after the licensing of these entities.

However, the inability of the government to transfer the funds to the accredited trustees, especially for public sector workers, has created some doubts as to whether the money is in existence or not.

Twelve public sector labour unions have threatened to embark on an indefinite strike on September 29 this year to protest government's way of handling their tier two pension contributions.

They demanded the transfer of their pension contributions from 2010 to 2016 to their custodian banks rather than being kept in a temporary pension account which yielded no interests.

To solve this nagging issue once and for all, the Daily Graphic suggests that the NPRA should be summoned to produce an investment report showing how much funds have been received, what it has been invested in and the return on the investment over the period.

Again, the regulator should be ordered to announce a cut-off date for taking the tier two contributions into the Temporary Pension Fund Account (TPFA) by employers so that unified and proper accounting can be undertaken.

Employers should be empowered to make their mandatory tier two contributions into schemes chosen by employees.

It is also our view that the Pensions Act be amended to remove the ambiguity that exists about who, employer or employee, has the right to select trustees for the second-tier pension scheme.

From a public policy perspective, the regulator should rigorously enforce provisions of the Pensions Act and ensure that no one uses or diverts workers' pension funds, whether it’s the government, trustees or the unions.

The second-tier pension commitments under the Pensions Act to workers should be respected and enforced promptly.

When these are strictly enforced and adhered to, there will be sanity and tranquility on the labour front.

We need industrial harmony so that the government, its social partners and the people can pursue the agenda for economic renewal.