27th May 2024

The Social Security and National Insurance Trust (SSNIT) has explained to former President John Dramani Mahama, flagbearer of the National Democratic Congress, that the request for the Trust to support contributors with some money, because of the hardship brought on them by the novel coronavirus pandemic, will constitute an illegality if it is accepted and implemented.

 

The pandemic led to a partial lockdown of Accra, Kumasi, Kasoa and Tema for three weeks. The lockdown was lifted last week.

 

There is also a ban on public gatherings which has affected numerous economic endeavours.

 

Speaking during his maiden digital conversation, John Mahama claimed SSNIT contributions are not only meant for pensioners, but also works as a form of insurance to cushion members from difficult times such as what the nation has on her hand at the moment.

 

“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.

 

Not backed by law

 

But SSNIT, in a statement, noted that such support, as suggested by Mr Mahama, would be illegal.

 

“…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 statement explained.

 

SSNIT also stated 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”.

 

The Trust cited the circumstance under which it can make payments as 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 dependants of a deceased contributor.

 

This response notwithstanding, SSNIT acknowledged that Mr Mahama’s suggestions were in good faith.

 

Speaking in a media interview, the Corporate Affairs Manager of SSNIT, Afua Sarkodie, said, “I am sure that the former President was in no way suggesting that we break the law. I would find that very difficult to believe.”

 

“We appreciate the challenging time some of our contributors and employers are going through,” she added.

 

SSNIT, however, said it “remains firmly committed to paying over GHS213 million in monthly pensions to the 213,173 pensioners on the SSNIT payroll as well as honouring payments to all new pensioners that apply.”

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