We Didn’t Impose Trustee ¬— Minister

DR.OMANE BOAMAH MINISTER FOR COMMUNICATIONS (5)The Minister of Communications, Dr. Edward Kofi Omane Boamah, says the government has not erred in its decision to manage the Tier Two Pension Fund because, it was done in consultation with the leadership of the workers.

Rebutting claims that government unilaterally imposed a trustee on public sector workers, the minister said “The demand by labour unions to choose trustees for the Tier Two Pensions will leave the future of workers, especially when they retire, almost entirely at the mercy of private interests; who cannot provide the same guarantee the concern for citizens’ welfare compels government to provide.”

Addressing a news conference in Accra yesterday, Dr. Omane Boamah explained that in September 2012, government set up the Pensions Committee whose membership included heads of various workers groups such as the Ghana Health Service (GHS), the Ghana Education Service (GES), Head of Civil Service and Head of Local Government Service.

He said the committee, in consultation with the National Pensions Regulatory Authority (NPRA) shortlisted five trustee companies – Enterprise Trustees Ltd, Provident Life Trust Company, Universal Pensions Master Trust Ltd, Glico Pensions Trustee Company Ltd and Pensions Alliance Trust to submit proposals for considerations.

Dr. Omane Boamah said the companies were given the opportunity to make presentations to the committee after which Pensions Alliance Trust Limited was recommended for appointment.

“It is understood that the selected trustee was the most responsive to the agreed criteria established. Their ICT infrastructure was considered excellent, data management, disaster recovery plan, reliability of software systems and Fund management expertise, were also regarded as the best by the committee” he said.

According to him, in October 2012, the then Minister of Finance, Dr. Kwabena Duffour, on behalf of government appointed the selected trustee as the Corporate Trustee for public sector pensions to register schemes with the NPRA for public sector workers and to appoint fund managers and Custodians, among others.

Mr Omane Boamah described as misleading, allegations by the various workers unions that the government had concealed details of the funds accrued from the Tier Two Pension Fund.

He said workers are adequately represented on the Boards of the Social Security and National Insurance Trust (SSNIT) and the NPRA and, therefore, they have the opportunity to regularly learn about the status of the pension funds at any given time as good corporate governance required.

He said the total balance on account by the Bank of Ghana as at October 27, this year, stood at Gh¢1.641,117,027.70 which included returns accrued after investment in treasury bills generated in three components.

The first is the private sector workers’ contributions paid through SSNIT and later transferred into the Temporary Pension Funds Account (TPFA) at the Bank of Ghana which amounted to a total of GH¢ 521,885,987.36.

“The second is the public sector workers’ contributions paid through the Controller and Accountant General’s Department and later transferred to the TPFA. That has also grossed GH¢ 488,768,270.73. These two components amounted to a total of GH¢ 1,010,654,258.09.

“The third is the investment component which was over GH¢ 600,000,000 after the funds were invested in government Treasury Bills and Bonds which the acting Chief Executive of the National Pensions Regulatory Authority, (NPRA) Mr. Laud Senanu announced at a news conference in Accra on Friday,” he said.

On allegations that government has transferred pension funds to Pension Trust Alliance, for the purchase of Merchant Bank, Mr. Omane Boamah said that such claims were “mischievous only invented to justify earlier falsehoods.”

He explained that the monies accrued from the scheme and being safely kept by the Bank of Ghana, had been prudently invested for the benefit of pensioners and challenged critics who had contrary views to contest the information being put out by the government.

Meanwhile, the president of the National Association of Graduate Teachers (NAGRAT), Christian Addai-Poku was described the explanation by Mr. Boamah’s as a “blatant miscommunication”.

Speaking to our reporter, Charles Amankwa, he said the government never sought the consent of the unions on how the fund should be managed, neither was there a consensus to appoint Pensions Alliance Trust (PAT) Limited over the management of the fund.

He said the government did not reach any agreement with the unions, but had rather entered into negotiations with heads of various institutions to arrive at the decision to appoint PAT to manage the fund.

“Setting a committee that is not represented by any of the 12 unions is totally out of context. By law, government was supposed to have sought the consent of the unions to decide on how the funds should be managed but not the management of the various government agencies,” he explained.

Mr. Addai-Poku said, in spite of Mr. Boamah’s position on the matter, the unions would still meet government today to resolve the matter while it continued with the strike.

Responding to the order by court directing public workers to end the strike, Mr. Addai-Poku said none of the unions had been served with the court order since Friday for which reason the unions were not calling off the strike.

“It is never the case that we are disobeying a court order but the truth is that none of the unions has been served with the court order and besides there is another writ of summons on us to appear in the Supreme Court this week,” he said.

Twelve labour unions two weeks ago, declared a nationwide strike in protest against government’s decision to manage their second-tier pension funds and argued that the decision by government was in contravention of the Pension Law.

The National Pensions Authority (NPA) 2008 (Act 766), according to the workers, allowed contributors to choose their own trusts and the four trusts belonging to the various groups which had been approved and licenced by the National Pensions Regulatory Authority (NPRA) to operate the second-tier pension scheme.

Government on Friday, secured an interlocutory injunction from an Accra High Court which compelled the unions to call off the strike in order for their members to return to work and render their services as expected of them by law, a ruling the workers had defied.

By Julius Yao Petetsi and Baaba Crentsil  

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