The Director-General of the Social Security and National Insurance Trust (SSNIT), Mr Ernest Thompson, has refuted allegations that the government has defaulted in the payment of social security benefits to public sector workers, and as a result, the scheme is collapsing.
Mr Thompson said currently, the government only owed the scheme two months’ arrears of social security payments for public sector workers.
That amount, he admitted, was a normal arrangement between the scheme managers and the government. It therefore did not have any negative effects on the scheme as was being portrayed in some media.
This came to light when Mr Ernest Thompson took his turn to answer questions regarding the scheme at a symposium organised as part of activities to celebrate the 50th anniversary of SSNIT in Accra.
“The Ghanaian worker should not panic because SSNIT is robust and as I speak, the current SSNIT can pay workers benefits up to 30 years. In fact, this is the first time in history that a government owns the scheme such a minimal amount and, therefore, it is not true that government is crippling the scheme,” he said.
The symposium had the theme: “Social security then, now and beyond,” and was attended by workers, pensioners, former directors of SSNIT and government representatives.
Speaking on ‘Social security then,’ a former General Manager of Administration of SSNIT, Mr J. E. Allotey, said that while social security in Europe was a direct consequence of the industrial revolution, in Ghana and many parts of Africa, it was set up as a result of factors such as colonisation, industrialisation and urbanisation.
He also said the aim of the scheme was to provide individuals with some income when they faced contingencies such as old age, survival, incapacity, disability, unemployment or rearing children.
Mrs Gifty Anteryi, a former General Manager of Operations of SSNIT, spoke on “social security now” and said SNNIT had adopted modern technologies to ensure efficiency and keep pace with the changing world.
That, she said, would prevent the problems the trust encountered with manual and paperwork such as delay in the payment of claims and inefficient communication among the various branches of SNNIT.
Mrs Anteryi said as part of efforts to guarantee the safety of the Ghanaian worker, SSNIT had invested in high-yielding ventures such as real estate development, hostel facilities, hotels, modern car parks, energy and hospitals.
Because of the successes of the scheme, she noted that SSNIT had become a model for many other African countries, including Uganda.
She however, admitted that there were misconceptions about the scheme that workers could build mansions after taking their claims and reminded workers that their claims were based on the monthly contributions they made and the interest accrued from the investments SSNIT made.
A former Rector of GIMPA, Professor Stephen Adei, who spoke on the way forward for SSNIT, advised managers of the scheme to increase the transparency and the efficiency of the scheme.
He also said workers owned the scheme so they should be updated frequently on the amounts they had contributed and how their monies were being managed.
A Deputy Minister of Finance and Trustee of SSNIT, Mrs Mona Quartey, for her part, said the government was committed to ensuring that Ghanaian workers retired with dignified packages and so would continue to partner SSNIT to fulfill that promise.