The Social Security and National Insurance Trust (SSNIT) has begun moves to help expand coverage and enrol more self-employed in the informal sector onto the scheme.
The move according to SSNIT, was to promote retirement income security for informal sector workers and help them lead financially independent lives when they can no longer work.
Consequently, the management of SSNIT yesterday held a meeting with stakeholders to find ways of expanding and deepening coverage of the Basic National Social Security Scheme to self-employed workers.
Held in Accra, the programme was meant to seek stakeholder buy-in and support to extend coverage of the SSNIT Scheme to the self-employed and workers in the informal sector.
It was attended by representatives of Trades Union Congress (TUC), Civil Society Organisations (CSOs), members of the Parliamentary Select Committee on Employment, Social Welfare and State Enterprises, and National Pensions Regulatory Authority (NPRA).
Speaking at the event, the Minister of Employment and Labour Relations, Ignatius BaffourAwuah, lauded SSNIT management for the initiative to extend social security coverage to self-employed workers in the country.
He noted that a recent study conducted by the ministry indicated that one of the main things workers use their disposal income for was to spend on their aged parents, and thus anytime people were not covered by any structured social security system, they tend to fall on the working population.
“Indeed, if we want to make sure that we all have good standard of living even during our old age, then the best way is to ensure we are put on social security,” Mr Awuah noted.
He explained that considering the unique benefits the SSNIT Scheme provided to members, it was important for the self-employed to join the first-tier pension scheme.
“I am aware that there are so many pension products, but the difference between SSNIT and the other tiers is that, while the other tiers pays a one-time lump sum, the SSNIT Scheme pays you monthly pension until death and I think this is something everybody must embrace,” he said.
The Director-General of SSNIT, Dr John Ofori-Tenkorang, said it had become necessary to extend coverage to informal sector workers not only to increase active membership and contributor base of the scheme, but also to ensure that every worker in Ghana enjoyed social protection.
That, he added, would help reduce poverty and over-dependence on family relations and friends during old age.
He said presently a little over 14,000 self-employed workers contributed to the SSNIT Pension Scheme.
The low informal sector workers coverage, Dr Ofori-Tenkorang attributed to the nature of the economy of the country, where most people were engaged in their own businesses and did not see the need to have a structured social security scheme.
The General Manager of SSNIT in charge of Benefits, Mr Robert OwusuSekyere, noted that the Trust was determined to increase the number of persons insured on the scheme to provide income replacement for every worker in Ghana.
“That is why we are now paying more attention to our friends who are self-employed. The feedback we receive on the regular clearly shows very little understanding of how the SSNIT Scheme operates. There is also an erroneous perception that people lose the value of their money when they insure their incomes with SSNIT. It is against this backdrop that we have decided to reach out and educate these individuals through various channels on the benefits the SSNIT Scheme provides to encourage them to come along to secure their future income,” she said.