Published on 26 October, 2020.
The Social Security and National Insurance Trust (SSNIT) has launched its Mobile Service Week at the Takoradi Mall in the Western Region. The SSNIT Mobile Service is an annual event where SSNIT officers move from their regular office setting to pitch camp at vantage locations across the country to bring its services closer to their Members and Clients.
The Mobile Service Week affords stakeholders who may be too busy to visit the branches or remember to use the Trust’s online platforms the opportunity to transact business with the Trust at their convenience.
This year, the week is being observed under the theme ‘Securing your retirement – your role as a Stakeholder’. In his keynote address, the Director-General of SSNIT, Dr. John Ofori-Tenkorang, said the theme was chosen to draw the attention of stakeholders, especially workers to their roles in ensuring enhanced retirement benefits. He indicated that “though discussions on pensions have been rife in recent times in the media landscape, often, these discussions are silent on the role stakeholders are expected to play”. He said the spotlight should not just be put on SSNIT for the pensions retirees receive, but on workers as well and the amounts they contribute and its impact on their pensions.
SSNIT is regulated
Dr. Ofori-Tenkorang also denied the assertion that SSNIT does what it pleases. “Contrary to what people believe, SSNIT does not do what it pleases but our operations are checked by the regulator to ensure we are discharging our duties as prescribed by law.” The regulator, the National Pensions Regulatory Authority (NPRA), “ensures and insists that we do right by employers and contributors,” he added.
Role of Employers
Contributors on the SSNIT Scheme, aside the self-employed, pay their contributions through their respective employers. Employers therefore play key roles in securing the future of workers in Ghana. They are responsible for ensuring that their business and every worker they hire is registered with the SSNIT Scheme.
They must also deduct 5.5% contributions from their workers salaries and add 13% to it, making a total of 18.5%. They remit 13.5% to SSNIT and the remainder to the second tier fund manager within the timelines specified by law. Employers can do this at any SSNIT branch or through the Trust’s web portal that allows submission and validation of Contribution Reports in the comfort of the employer’s office or home and they can also conveniently pay at any of the Trust’s 17 partner banks. The SSNIT boss assured employers of his outfit’s continuous deployment of innovative strategies to aid them meet their obligations. He also urged them to ensure they pay their workers contributions on the correct salaries since that determines what will be paid as benefits when their employees retire. This, he said, will “ensure a motivated workforce and avoid needless payment of penalties or even prosecution for non-compliance”.
Role of Workers
Commenting on the role of workers, he encouraged them to check their SSNIT Statement to be sure if their contributions are being paid and on the correct salaries. “When you check your statement and realize any inaccuracies, kindly contact your employers to rectify them. Where you have difficulties, reach out to us and our dedicated officers will assist you to address them,” he assured.
Touching on what SSNIT is doing to assist workers understand and exercise their responsibilities to fully enjoy the benefits of social security, he indicated that the Trust has intensified education of the public during the last few years.
These outreach programmes are targeted at members, employers as well as prospective contributors including students. The key message has been that what workers contribute determine what they receive as pension.
The Director-General, therefore, advised workers to negotiate with their employers to pay their contributions on consolidated salaries since allowances are not factored into the payment of contributions and the determination of pension.
He summed up by saying, “if you contribute based on a relatively big salary, you will get a big pension”.
Dr Ofori-Tenkorang used the occasion to remind pensioners aged 72 and above to renew their Pensioners Certificate else they risk their pensions being stopped.
The PNDCL 247 guarantees pensioners monthly pensions for a period of 12 years and Act 766 for 15 years. Beyond this period, pensioners are supposed to call on SSNIT to have their Pensioners Certificate renewed to guarantee continuous payment of their pensions.
Those who fail to do so will be deemed deceased.
“It is through processes like this in addition to the biometric re-enrolment that we were able to delete names of over 11,000 non-existent pensioners, saving the Trust over GH¢130 million.”
The Director-General went ahead to talk about some initiatives the current management has introduced over the past three and half years.
He said they have reduced the time it took to pay pensions from over 50 days in 2016 to 16 days. He also indicated that they have made their services available to stakeholders through various channels including technological platforms.
“We have leveraged on technology to provide multiple service delivery points.”The Trust continues to use social media platforms to empower and enlighten Members so they can plan their retirement from the first day of employment in addition to services people receive from the 51 branches and the SSNIT Contact Centre.
The Director-General also indicated that they have put in place dedicated virtual meeting platforms to educate Members and encouraged workers and groups to book virtual meetings to enhance their understanding of SSNIT’s operations.
Earlier, the Takoradi Area Manager of SSNIT, Frank Molbila, welcomed guests to the launch and urged workers “to take advantage of the advisory services and engage SSNIT officers on preparing for retirement because irrespective of one’s work retirement will come due to either old age or invalidity”.