Strike action by Ghana's Labour Unions on Wednesday to push government to pay their tier 2 pension fund is justified, according think tank IMANI Centre for Policy and Education.
According to the think tank's Founding President, Franklin Cudjoe, government has done very little since 2012 to address the concerns of the workers regarding the pension scheme.
The mandatory work-based second tier pension scheme is aimed at providing employees higher lump sum benefits than previously available under the Social Security And National Insurance Trust (SSNIT), and expected to be managed privately.
Government has been working to contract Pension Alliance Trust (PAT) to manage it. Although PAT, a licensed insurance company has capacity to handle this second tier, the unionised workers see it as an attempt by government to impose the firm on them.
Instead the Labour Unions are calling on government to allow full operationalisation of the Public Sector Pension Scheme expected to focus more on public sector workers in the public sector.
Below are reasons IMANI provides to back the strike by the unionised workers, which include the Ghana Medical Association, Health Service Workers Union, Ghana National Association of Teachers, Teachers and Educational Workers Union, National Association of Graduate Teachers among others:
1. Workers who retire now risk not getting their lump sum benefits. In fact people who have retired since 2011 but have made the 5% Tier 2 contributions still cannot access their lump sum benefits based on the contributions made since January 2010. This is a potential crisis.
2. There may be no accountability as to what the contributions have used for. The longer the status quo remains, the direr the accountability question becomes. In the words of a former CEO of NPRA , “It is important that serious efforts are made to reconcile contributors data to ensure that cash and investment holdings that are under the custody of NPRA in aggregate is equal to the total liability due to the contributors before statements are sent out to them. The caution is that Defined Contribution is fully funded and at any point in time the contributors’ statement and the funds should be the same.”
3. Since the NPRA is not a Fund Manager, they have neither the resources nor the skill to be investing the contributions they have received since January 2010, in order to maximize returns for workers contributions. The Ghanaian worker ultimately suffers.
4. From an economic perspective, very important source of revenue needed for national and private sector development is still being held by the NPRA because all they can do is to invest the funds in Government treasures. This is assuming that the funds have been invested at all. What’s the proof that the funds are available anyway? Potentially, income from pension contributions is more sustainable than even oil.
For as long as people continue to work, there will continue to be pension contributions whereas oil reserves can actually run out. Scheme trustees can invest funds in the private sector, real estate, listed equities (to develop our stock market), government treasuries (to sponsor government projects), etc.
In the light of the above, we [IMANI] demand the following to take place with immediate effect:
1. The NPRA should immediately, without delay, be asked to produce an Investment report showing how much monies have been received, what it has been invested in return on investment over the period.
2. The NPRA should be ordered to announce a cut-off date for taking Tier 2 contributions into the Temporary Pension Fund by employers.
3. Employers be informed to make their mandatory Tier 2 and voluntary Tier 3 contributions into schemes of their choice starting from contributions.
4. The Board Chairman (or the entire Board) of the NPRA made to step aside while a forensic audit is undertaken on the stewardship of the NPRA over the Temporary Pension Fund and the investment activities of the NPRA with respect to same.
Meanwhile, the striking workers can proceed to court.
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