Editorial: Why SSNIT must rope in more informal sector workers

The self-employed and workers in the informal sector, according to a Ghana News Agency (GNA) report, have been encouraged to join the Social Security and National Insurance Trust (SSNIT) Pension Scheme to guarantee them retirement income to take care of their needs when they can no longer work.

Mr. Charles Akwei Garshong, Public Affairs Manager of SSNIT, who gave the encouragement, cautioned the self-employed against preferring treasury bills to the Pension Scheme, saying, “Investing your money in treasury bills will not yield you more returns than what SSNIT will be paying you during your retirement.”

The news agency further quoted Mr. Garshong as saying that apart from regular annual increases on pension allowances, SSNIT also pays contributors who are declared unfit (invalidity pension) monthly pension allowances, no matter the age, before being declared fit to continue working.

He was speaking at a sensitisation workshop for media practitioners in Tamale on the SSNIT Pension Scheme to equip them with information to help create content and to encourage the self-employed and workers in the informal sector to join the Pension Scheme.

Statistics show that about 85 per cent of the country’s economy is informal, comprising 6.7 million self-employed persons from a total working population of 9.9 million.

However, only about 34,000 active SSNIT contributors are self-employed. This clearly tells a story that SSNIT has a lot of work to do in order to hook more people onto the scheme.

There are a lot of self-employed people in this country who, even though have heard of SSNIT, do not know the benefits they would get when they join the scheme. The Chronicle will never blame these people, because they do not know what an investment is.

There are others who find it painful to use part of their meagre incomes to contribute to SSNIT. Again, these kinds of people have not been properly educated on investment, hence, their ignorant stance.

The unfortunate development is sending many Ghanaians to their early graves, after they have attained age 60yrs and above, and do not have the strength to work, so as to generate income.

Those who are fortunate to live after the above quoted age virtually become destitutes and a heavy burden on their dependants. They might have found themselves in this difficult situation because they did not get proper advice to join SSNIT during their active working careers.

The Chronicle is, therefore, advising SSNIT to intensify its public education on the need for self- employed people to join the Scheme to secure their future.

Since the Trust has offices in almost all the district capitals, their personnel have to visit every hamlet to educate people about the benefits they would derive when they attain the mandatory retiring age of 60 years.

It is a shame that out of 6.7 million self-employed persons from a total working population of 9.9 million, only about 34,000 are active SSNIT contributors.

The Chronicle is, therefore, not surprised that there is a high rate of poverty in the country, because most of the people do not simply have any income to depend on, after becoming weak and cannot, therefore, work.

As a nation, we should not be proud of this and that is why The Chronicle is appealing to SSNIT to intensify its public education, to get more people from the informal sector to join the Trust.

Wrong impressions were created in the past that it was only formal sector workers that can join SSNIT. This dealt a heavy blow to the efforts to bring on board the informal sector workers. But it is better late than never.

Now that SSNIT itself has realised the harm this has caused the nation, they have to wake up from their slumber and do the right thing – by educating the masses about the importance of having pension after retirement.

We shall return to this subject, which is very dear to our hearts.


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