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Engineers and Planners refutes SSNIT claim of indebtedness

BY: Dominic Moses Awiah
Mr Ibrahim Mahama
Mr Ibrahim Mahama

Construction firm, Engineers and Planners (E&P), has refuted allegations by the Social Security and National Insurance Trust (SSNIT) that the company had failed to pay the social security contributions of its workers.

The company, which is owned by Mr Ibrahim Mahama, a brother of the former President John Mahama, said the E& P had settled all its indebtedness and fully paid off over Gh¢2 million it owed SSNIT.

The amount, per a statement issued by the company in Accra last Monday, included the actual arrears of GH¢668, 754.75 and a penalty of GH¢387, 709.31 which was imposed by SSNIT.

Background

Engineers and Planners and its Chief Executive, Mr Mahama, have been dragged to court by SSNIT for allegedly failing to pay GH¢1,056,464.06, being the social security contributions of workers of the company.

The Trust said the company failed to pay the social security contributions of its workers between the periods of February to July 2015, June to August 2016 and October 2016. 

Also standing trial are the Managing Director of E & P, Mr Sidney Aubrey Steyn, and two directors of the company — Messrs Kwadwo Aboagye-Attah and Sulemana Ahmed Amidu.

The four officials of the company have been charged with two counts of failing to pay the social security contributions and failing to pay penalty on contributions, contrary to the National Pensions Act, 2008 (Act 766), and the National Pensions (Amendment) Act 2014 (Act 883).

Payment plan and delays

The  E&P statement explained that “On December 22, 2016, SSNIT entered into a negotiated agreement with Engineers and Planners, as it does with all clients, for the payment of arrears of social security contributions of GH¢1,601,051.78” 

“By the terms of the agreement, E&P was required to make 12 monthly instalments commencing February 2017, ending in January 2018” it said. 

 As of April 28, 2017, it said, E&P had made a total payment of over GH¢2 million (GH#¢2, 723,212.36), which is full payment of all outstanding arrears and penalties. 

The statement said on March 2, 2017, however, SSNIT wrote to E&P, serving notice that it had abrogated the negotiated agreement, due to the failure of the company to make the instalment payment for February 2017, as a result of two days of delay in paying the first instalment.

“E&P informed SSNIT that it had made efforts to make the payment for February as agreed, but for unexpected delays in its receivables on current contracts and committed itself to paying the instalment. A promise it has fulfilled,” it said.

According to the statement, E&P made a request for SSNIT to reconsider its decision to abrogate the negotiated agreement but SSNIT declined the request. 

It said on April 13, 2017, a summons was issued to E&P to appear before the District Court on April 29, 2017, to answer a complaint of failing to pay SSNIT contributions of GH¢668,754.75 and a penalty of GH¢387,709.31 totalling GH¢1,056,464.06”, it said.

Inconsistencies 

Letters sighted by the Daily Graphic revealed that there were some inconsistencies regarding the exact amount E&P owed SSNIT.

The three letters sent by SSNIT to the company all contained different amounts. The first letter was the negotiated agreement letter, followed by a demand notice, after the abrogation of the agreement and the summons.

In the negotiated agreement letter, SSNIT quoted Gh¢1,601,051 as the amount owed it by E&P. Later, a demand notice was sent quoting Gh¢2, 723,213.32, while the final letter mentioned  Gh#¢1,401,051.78 

However, lawyers of E&P said the company decided to pay the highest amount that was quoted, which was Gh¢2.7 million.