A renowned economist, Mr Kwame Pianim, has underscored the need for the Ghana National Association of Teachers (GNAT) to consider the establishment of retirement homes for teachers across the country.
This is to ensure that teachers have comfortable places to lay their heads after retirement.
Mr Pianim said this at the GNAT Investment Forum in Accra yesterday.
It was on the theme: “Beyond the Teachers: Making Our Teachers Economically Sound”.
The investment forum, which was part of the 90th anniversary of GNAT, was to expose members to the various investment opportunities available to them and how they could take advantage of them.
Currently, GNAT, which has a membership of 240,000, is rolling out a Teachers Fund with the key objective of providing financial support and other key requirements for its members.
The Teachers Fund has a membership of 228,000.
“As you are doing all these investments, one of the things I want you to look at in the next 20 years is how you take care of your teachers; caring for your teachers in their retirement. For that, I am proposing that you consider retirement homes for your teachers,” he said.
Mr Pianim said previous attempts at a retirement housing scheme focused on trying to get teachers to acquire places that they were going to build.
However, he said, the level of salaries of most Ghanaians was not adequate enough to pay the price of mortgages for lower middle income housing.
But, he said, with retirement homes, it would depend on taking teachers’ entitlements from the Teachers Fund, tier two, life insurance and other sources.
On the Teachers Fund, Mr Pianim stressed the need for it to undertake other investments in order to take care of the effect of the depreciation of the cedi on the fund.
He said, for instance, that the time had come for the Bank of Ghana to allow the Teachers Fund to invest up to 10 per cent of it externally to earn foreign exchange to minimise the effect of the depreciation of the cedi on it.
In an address read on his behalf, the Minister of Education, Dr Yaw Osei Adutwum, said the issue of how to improve pensions for Ghanaian workers, and for that matter teachers, had been on the radar for a while, as efforts were being made to ensure the immediate resolution of the issue.
The investment forum, he said, was very significant and a great milestone in the history of teacher unionism in the country, adding: “So I congratulate the leadership of GNAT for the foresight and the desire to lift your members out of unattractive living conditions.”
“Investment is a very important move to sustain not only the national economy but also individual economies. Workers’ comfort is national comfort; hence the government is committed to partnering GNAT to improve the living conditions of teachers,” he said.
A Deputy Minister of Employment and Labour Relations, Mr Bright Wireko-Brobby, commended GNAT for the forum.
He gave the assurance that steps were being taken to address all labour issues.
The President of GNAT, Ms Philippa Larsen, said no union could be comfortable when its members were working in very difficult conditions and taking meagre salaries, and “so it is better to teach people how to fish than to give them fish all the time”.
GNAT, she said, was, therefore, to break new ground through its investment forum.
The General Secretary of GNAT, Mr Thomas Musah, for his part, said GNAT would focus on the economic interest of it members, in addition to their professional development, among other things.
The Chief Executive Officer of the Teachers Fund, Mr Foster Buabeng, said one of the plans of the fund was to set up a bank.