Only 14,000 workers out of the estimated 10 million self-employed and workers in the informal sector are captured onto the Social Security and National Insurance Trust (SSNIT), the Director-General of the Trust, Dr John Ofori-Tenkorang, has revealed.
He said the SSNIT pension scheme was not only for formal or public sector workers, but rather all workers both those in the formal and informal sector, adding that “self-employed persons and workers can also join”.
Self-employed persons and workers in the informal sector are not limited by law to contribute to only tier three but also contribute to the SSNIT person scheme so they can enjoy the benefits.”
Dr Ofori-Tenkorang disclosed this at a stakeholders meeting with leaders of self-employed persons and worker groups in the informal sector in the Eastern Region and SSNIT on Friday.
The meeting which was part of measures to expand and deepen coverage of the pension scheme to self-employed workers was also to enable SSNIT to explain the basic pension scheme to them and to enlighten them on the benefits derived from the pension scheme.
About 164 self-employed persons were present for the stakeholders meeting.
Speaking on the benefits, Dr Ofori-Tenkorang pointed out the unique benefits of the scheme and stated that the benefit pay-outs under the scheme was unparalleled by any other pension scheme in the country.
He indicated that the SSNIT Scheme pays Old Age Pension, Invalidity Pension, Survivors’ lump sum and emigration benefit and added that the value members derive from SSNIT outweighs members’ total contributions and accrued interests.
“The SSNIT Scheme pays minimum pension by subsidising pensions for pensioners whose salaries were woefully low when they were in active service or contributors who contributed on a minimal salary to the Scheme”.
According to him, SSNIT treats every member equally and the benefits employees of organisations enjoy when they qualify are not different from what is paid to the self-employed members of the Scheme.
He added that the “Trust pays you till you pass on and the Scheme provides a life policy as well”.
That, he added would help reduce poverty and over-dependence on family relations and friends during old age or in the event of permanent invalidity.
He hinted that for members who could no longer work due to permanent disease or illness, the Scheme pays them an Invalidity Pension regardless of age and with only 12 months of contributions within the last three years prior to the person becoming invalid.
He reaffirmed SSNIT’s commitment to deepen and extend coverage of the Basic National Social Security Scheme to self-employed persons and informal sector workers to ensure every worker in Ghana receives pension in the future.
He hinted that very soon SSNIT would roll up an application (APP) “so that people will use it as an interface to make contributions and track their SSNIT payment as well as transact business with SSNIT without coming to our offices.”
He added that contributors could pay by mobile money adding that such transactions which were statutory would not attract e-levy.
He therefore appealed to the leaders of self-employed workers to help create awareness among their members to increase enrolment.
A participant, Mr Muniro Alhassan, the New Juaben Welfare Chairman of the GPRTU in the Eastern Region raised concerns of their inability to join the scheme due to the age limit of 44 years stating that most of their regional executives were beyond that age.
He touted the SSNIT management for taking the initiative to reach out to workers in the informal sector, noting that the engagement has provided them a broader understanding of the scheme.
He, therefore, appealed to SSNIT to find a way to include persons who were 45 years and make the education of the scheme paramount to ensure the youth and upcoming generation would not be deprived of the benefits of the SSNIT Scheme.
FROM AMA TEKYIWAA AMPADU AGYEMAN, KOFORIDUA