The Social Security and National Insurance Trust (SSNIT) says its efforts to cleanse the payroll system of ‘ghost’ pensioners are yielding the desired results.
According to the trust, about GH¢1.5 million was being saved monthly after it initiated an exercise to deactivate pensioners who had failed to comply with directives to register biometrically with the trust.
“In February this year, we started deactivating pensioners who, after several attempts to get them register biometrically, failed, but this has given the trust some significant improvement in its payroll,” the Director-General of SSNIT, Dr John Ofori-Tenkorang, told the media on the side-lines of a forum in Accra last Saturday.
Dubbed, the SSNIT Info Shop, the forum, organised by SSNIT, in collaboration with the University Students Association of Ghana (USAG), was designed to help students appreciate how SSNIT could help them prepare, secure and take control of their lives before and beyond age 60 or in the event of permanent invalidity.
The trust has, since August last year, given notice, through the media, encouraging pensioners on the scheme to register biometrically in a move to protect the fund from being financially abused by non-existent retired persons.
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Since February 2018, the trust has deactivated about 2,237 pensioners from its payroll and intends to remove the names of an additional 6,129 retirees in April this year.
The affected names include pensioners between 72 and 90 years and above.
Dr Ofori-Tenkorang observed that although SSNIT received close to GH¢200 million per month from contributors, the same amount was used to pay off pensioners every month.
“It was for this reason that the trust embarked on an audit exercise, from which it was realised that its payroll has been bloated, hence the need for it to cleanse its payroll,” he said.
Almost a year ago, he said, SSNIT embarked on a sensitisation programme, during which it found out that the scheme’s payroll system did not reflect its pension population.
“What we realised was that when people die, it is not often reported, and those ghost pensioners continue to receive their benefits at the end of the month, a situation which financially over-burdens the trust,” he added.
Earlier, in his keynote address at the forum, which was aimed at educating students about the importance of social security, the director-general had underscored the need for students to secure their future by registering and contributing to the scheme when they started working.
He said the main objective of the scheme was to ensure retirement income security for workers and guarantee that every worker received retirement and related benefits as and when due.
“Whether it is your own small start-up or you are working for someone, I strongly urge you to register today with our officers who are here and start your contributions because the scheme is set up to receive contributions from members from age 15,” he said.
Dr Ofori-Tenkorang added that instead of seeing old age as a distant reality, the youth should take social security seriously because everyone was exposed to the contingencies of old age, invalidity and death.
For his part, a senior lecturer at the Economics Department of the University of Ghana, Dr D.K. Twerefour, lauded SSNIT for organising the forum to engage students on social security.
The President of USAG, Mr Albert Opong Kesse, thanked SSNIT for working together with the association to bring the SSNIT Info Shop to the doorstep of university students.