Workers Demand Gov’t Action – On Tier II Pension
Isaac Bampoe-Addo (middle) addressing the media yesterday
The Forum for Public Sector Registered Pension Schemes has given the government up to the end of July to resolve all outstanding issues regarding the Tier Two Pension Scheme or face their wrath.
According to the forum, since 2010 when the scheme commenced, government has about 80 months’ arrears of their five percent monthly deductions to be paid into their respective custodian fund managers.
The forum said the government should transfer all contributions deducted from January 2010 to 31st August 2016, including penalties as required by law, and also asked the National Pension Regulatory Authority (NPRA) to ensure that the terms of settlement filed by the government and the forum at the High Court in February 2016 are complied with by all the parties.
The Forum is made up of Unions and Associations including the Health Service Workers’ Union, Ghana Registered Nurses and Midwives Association, Ghana Medical Association, Ghana Physicians Assistants Association, Ghana Hospital Pharmacists Association and the Ghana Association of Certified Registered Anesthetists.
The rest include the Ghana National Association of Teachers, Teachers and Educational Workers Union of Ghana Trades Union Congress, the National Association of Graduate Teachers, the Coalition of Concerned Teachers, Ghana and the Civil and Local Government Staff Association, Ghana and the Judicial Service Staff Association of Ghana.
At a news conference in Accra yesterday, Isaac Bampoe-Addo, who is the Chairman of the forum, bemoaned the attitude of the National Pensions Regulatory Authority (NPRA) in addressing their concerns.
“As indicated, the 2nd Tier Scheme is a defined contributions Scheme and in order to increase the retirement income for workers, the funds deducted would have to be invested prudently and timeously. NPRA by its conduct has held up funds in the TPFA which is yielding no returns.”
They claimed the NPRA had “refused to forward to government a second option of indebtedness to enable government take a decision as to the way forward in spite of clear directives from the minister in-charge of pensions.”
According to the forum, in 2014, the National Pensions Act, 2008 (Act 766) was amended by National Pensions Act, 2014 (Act 883) and the amendment reverted some workers back to the social security law, 1991 – PNDCL 247 and also changed the formula that had been established by SSNIT scheme.
“The effect of this change has resulted into the payment of reduced benefits to the contributors,” adding “again it has generated a problem as to how to handle the extra 1% deductions made on behalf of those workers, who have been reverted to the social security law 1991 (PNDCL 247) by the National Pensions Amendment Act, 2014 (Act 883).”
The forum also said that it “has an axe to grind with the managers of the SSNIT Scheme because they are using an early retirement reduction factor of up to 40% lump sum and an annuity factor of 41.9% without any legal basis to compute benefits to the detriment of members of the scheme.”
They said further that instead of going by the law and computing the minimum pension using 50 percent of the average annual salary for the three best years of a member during their working life, SSNIT is using monthly salaries as the basis of calculation.”
The forum insisted that NPRA, as a regulator “has the onerous responsibility to ensure that the Temporary Pensions Fund Account (TPFA) at the Bank of Ghana into which deductions of workers in the public sector were deposited has been audited.”
“The audit of the TPFA accounts has not been done to pave the way for the disbursement of funds accrued since 1st January, 2010 to 31st August 2016 to be paid to the custodians of the four public sector schemes.”
They said “the government is sitting aloof, and seems unconcerned about the delay of the transfer of monthly deductions to the custodians of our occupational pension schemes.”
The forum accused NPRA of allegedly “not ensuring the determination of an appropriate and acceptable past credit in respect of contributors who by the new Act are to claim their lump sums from the occupational pension schemes after they have made contributions for several years to the SSNIT Scheme.”
They also said that the Ministry of Finance was trying to assume oversight responsibility over pensions when it was supposed to be managed by the Ministry of Employment, adding that “the Minister of Finance cannot amend an Act of Parliament with a budget statement as he did.”
By William Yaw Owusu