Social Security and National Insurance Trust (SSNIT) has denied media reports that the government owes it about Ghc8 billion.
SSNIT’s Director of Public Affairs, Evangeline Amegashie in an interview on the Citi FM said government always settles its debt unlike some private institutions.
“When government owes, government pays. There are private companies when they owe, they never pay but government always pays. Even if it delays, it pays and does not always only pay in cash – it pays in so many ways so it’s not new that government owes,” she explained.
A Public Agenda newspaper publication on Tuesday alleged that the government was forced to amend the Pensions Act of 2008 because it desperately had to save the scheme from collapse following years of “abuse by successive governments, who have treated the scheme in most cases, as a slush fund, which they resort to with careless abandon anytime the government of the day was cash strapped.”
The newspaper also claimed that government owes the scheme in excess of Ghc8 billion but due to its inability to settle this debt, in December 2014, it went to Parliament to seek an amendment to the Pensions Act of 2008, (Act 766).
This amendment is said to have reduced the minimum pension payable to a retiree from 50% to 37.5% of the average annual salary of the retiree’s best three years of his working life.
But Evangeline Amegashie refuted these claims saying, “it is not true. They owe, they pay, they owe, they pay! …If they were not paying, the debt would have been more than what it is now. They used to, but now they have paid up to about the end of last year; so it’s not true.”
She was, however, unable to give the exact figure the government of Ghana owes the pension scheme, but insisted that “they [government] do not owe that much.”
SSNIT also denied amending the Pensions Act because the government was unable to pay its debt.
“The statement is absolutely untrue,” said Evangeline Amegashie.
She indicated that the amendment to the Act 766 was “to make those who were 50 years and above in 2010 better off because between 50 years and 60 years, they wouldn’t have accumulated enough funds to get enough lump sum from the second tier.”
According to her, so far, 400,000 contributors have been brought under Act 247 “so that they will be better off because they will be worse off under Act 766.”