The Social Security and National Insurance Trust (SSNIT), has explained that it would be illegal under the current law that set up the Trust for them to make payments to contributors over a three-month period to mitigate the social and economic impact caused by the outbreak of the novel Coronavirus.
This follows a suggestion by former President John Dramani Mahama for the pensions manager to consider taking that step as other countries have done.
According to the Trust, “SSNIT, as operator of the first tier Basic National Social Security Scheme, has its operations, reach and mandate clearly stated in the law.
A statement issued by SSNIT on Friday, 24 April 2020, stated that,” the benefits His Excellency is suggesting that we pay do not exist in law. To do so will constitute an illegality and a contravention of the provisions of the National Pensions Act, 2008, Act 766.”
The Trust also stated that “while we take notice of the sentiments of H.E. John Mahama, we wish to bring his attention to the fact that the Trust is a creature of law emanating from the National Pensions Act, 2008, Act 766 which governs the administration of SSNIT and all other pension schemes in the country.”
It mentioned the context under which it can make payments as Superannuation pension or Old Age Pension, Invalidity Pension when a worker becomes permanently incapacitated, Old Age Lump Sum Benefit which is a refund of contributions with interest and the Survivors’ Lump Sum Benefit which is made to nominated dependents of a deceased contributor.
Acknowledging the difficult times the country is facing as a result of the impact, SSNIT has assured its contributors that, it, “remains firmly committed to paying over GHS 213 million in monthly pensions to the 213,173 pensioners on the SSNIT payroll as well as honouring payments to all new pensioners that apply.”
It further noted that the benefits provided by SSNIT as stated in the National Pensions Act, 2008, Act 766, conforms to the recommendations of the International Labour Organisation (ILO Convention 102) and that, “Management will at all times protect the viability and sustainability of the SSNIT Scheme.”
The outbreak of the novel Coronavirus in the country compelled government to declare a partial lockdown of Accra, Kumasi, Kasoa and Tema for three weeks.
This affected many economic activities in the country. Though the partial lockdown has been lifted, the ban on public gatherings is still in place.
Currently, Ghana has recorded 1,279 cases with 134 recoveries and 10 deaths.
On Thursday April 23, 2020, former president John Mahama called on the Social Security and National Insurance Trust (SSNIT) to consider paying some monies to contributors to ease the COVID-19-induced hardships they may be facing.
“Social security contributions are essentially an insurance scheme made not just for pensions in old age before we die. They are also made to help contributors in times of adversities such as this. Not all will come out and queue for food, but as has been done in other countries like St. Lucia, I think a token payment to all contributors of a certain token sum over three months would have afforded many the assurance of feeding their families during this abnormal times,” he said.