The Chief Actuary of the Social Security and National Insurance Trust (SSNIT), Mr Joseph Poku, has encouraged employers and workers in the informal sector to join the scheme in order to financially secure their old age when they were no longer able to work.
Mr Poku said it was quite worrying to note that out of a total of over 1.7 million active members on the scheme, only 14,314 of them representing 0.8 per cent were self-employed clients in the informal sector.
He attributed the low enrolment rate to the limited awareness about the scheme among workers in the informal sector who considered the SSNIT as an intervention for people in the public sector or formal engagement only.
Mr Poku stated this at Wa on Wednesday at a regional conference by SSNIT on extending pension coverage to the self-employed and informal sector workers.
The conference brought together heads of trade associations such as the shea butter processors, the Ghana Private Road and Transport Union (GPRTU) as well as weavers, black smiths and music and sound recording associations respectively to educate them on the scheme and make them ambassadors in order to get younger ones enrolled onto the scheme.
“In as much as SSNIT needs to improve sustainability of the scheme by increasing contributor base, we also want to ensure that every Ghanaian in the labour force especially those in the informal sector enjoyed some benefits when they retire from active work,” he said.
He indicated that SSNIT provided a reliable and regular source of income after retirement as it paid pensions above a minimum range regardless the income of the beneficiary.
“So for contributors who receive very little salary at the end of the month but are still able to contribute diligently to the scheme to a minimum of 180 months, SSNIT subsidises their actual monthly pension and pays them a sum above its minimum pension rate after paying off their lump sum,” he explained.
Mr Poku explained that a member who stopped contributing after 12 months of rolling onto the scheme because they were unable to work anymore due to accidents or ill health, still benefited from ‘invalidity pension’ irrespective of the age.
He enumerated that the scheme among other things sought to reduce poverty and over-dependence on benefactors during old age, provide partial income to pensioners and also provide a cushion for low income earners.
Mr Poku highlighted that the scheme offered old age pensions, survivors’ lump sum which was paid to a nominated successor of the contributor, invalidity pension, and emigration lump sum for foreign workers in Ghana and old age lump sum.
The SSNIT is a statutory public institution charged under the National Pensions Act, 2008 to cater for the first-tier of the three-tier pension scheme and is currently the largest non-bank financial institution in Ghana.
FROM LYDIA DARLINGTON FORDJOUR, WA