The Director-General of the Social Security and National Insurance Trust (SSNIT), Dr. John Ofori-Tenkorang has encouraged Ghanaians, both in the public and private sectors to choose the SSNIT Pension Scheme over any other investment.
According to him, the SSNIT Pension Scheme guarantees returns which are higher than what members would have received, if they had invested their monthly contributions in the safest investment, such as Treasury Bills.
He made the remarks during the opening ceremony of a three day Operations Conference of SSNIT at Koforidua, in the Eastern Regional capital on Wednesday, last week.
It was on the theme: “Ensuring sustainability of the SSNIT Scheme, through effective and efficient operational business processes; leveraging modern and reliable technology”.
The annual conference brought together top management, departmental heads, as well as Area and branch managers from across the country to discuss the performance of the Trust during the previous year and the first three quarters of 2021. The meeting will also adopt strategies to improve operational output in 2022.
Addressing the conference, Dr. Ofori-Tenkorang bemoaned the failure of the Trust to articulate the value of the Scheme and the generous benefits it offers to workers, especially those in the informal sector to secure their future.
“We at SSNIT, over the years, have not actively and convincingly sold the message and explained to people what the Scheme offers and how they are short changing themselves by not taking advantage of the offering”, he pointed out.
The Director–General of SSNIT hinted that after analyzing the contribution records on randomly selected pensioners throughout their work life, it was discovered that the total contributions plus interest, is far less than the present value of the pensions SSNIT pay them over the guaranteed period of 12 years under PNDCL 247 or 15 years under Act 766.
“For some people, their contribution plus interest cannot sustain the pension we pay them even for five years. But the good news is that we will continue to pay even beyond the 15 years if the person is alive.” he explained.
He, therefore, charged his managers to change the narrative on low pensions by providing the right information to sign on new members, especially players in the informal sector and make contributors and pensioners, employers, potentials and the clients the focus of SSNIT.
He said despite the gains the Trust has made over the past five years, a lot more can be done if there is a “reorientation of mindsets and a change to our approach to business from a business that has traditionally relied almost solely on the law to operate and to enforce compliance to one that is concerned with building and maintaining lifelong relationships.
According to him, in spite of the 56-year existence of the Trust, only about 1.7 million people are active Members.
“What that tells us clearly is that our approach has not worked well enough. Whilst I acknowledge the journey of innovation, improved service delivery and general transformation we have all been on these last few years, it appears we need to do far more”, he added.
The SSNIT boss commended staff for the improvement in service delivery, which led to the Trust emerging as the best in service delivery in the public sector in 2018 and 2020.
He stressed on the need to treat Members and Clients right and ensure that they get good experience every time they interact with staff, adding that, the huge technological investment such as new operating software, app, new interactive website and customer feedback mechanism, will mean nothing if the experience is bad.
“As I keep saying, we cannot do much about the pensions Members receive, but what we can do is to make sure that the amounts are calculated with 100 percent accuracy and also ensure that the service we give them is world class”.
He explained that though under the National Pensions Act employers are obliged to pay contributions for their workers or risk being prosecuted, there is the need to “build and maintain a good relationship with the employer” as a strategy for voluntary compliance.
“I would rather prefer you build a relationship that results in voluntary compliance than to adopt a confrontational stance, which sometimes leads to long drawn out prosecution which becomes a strain on the resources of both the employer and the Trust”, he suggested.
SSNIT & NIA numbers merger
Touching on the ongoing NIA and SSNIT numbers merger, Dr. Ofori-Tenkorang urged the Branch Managers to work closely with employers within their various jurisdictions to ensure all their employees merge their NIA and SSNIT numbers before the 31st December, 2021 deadline to avoid penalties for delay in processing and paying their contributions when the full switch over is done in 2022.
Earlier, in her keynote address, the Deputy Director-General, Operations and Benefits, Laurette Korkor Otchere, commended managers of the Operations and Benefits Divisions for their efforts over the past five years.She indicated that the gathering of managers in her directorate at the annual conference has often led to great initiatives that have yielded good results for the Trust.
Touching on the theme, she said “Sustainability of the SSNIT Scheme is essential and must be the bedrock on which we operate”. This, she opined, can be achieved by leveraging modern and reliable technology.
According to her, the use of data analytics, which allows managers to generate real-time performance reports as opposed to the previous manual reports that were generated, has helped improve the performance of the Divisions under her directorate.
The directorate continued “to use the Results-Based monitoring dashboards to monitor all operational activities with a focus on the impact on the sustainability of the Scheme”. She commended her team for embracing the new and improved work culture.
Some Operational Initiatives
Employers are required to submit the list of their workers and corresponding salaries (Contribution Report) to the Trust by the last working day of each month. However, some employers default with this provision. So a Mass outstanding Contribution Report retrieval exercise was initiated in August 2021, increasing Contribution Report submission rate from 73.0% to 86.4%.
Collaboration with RGD and GRA on Data Sharing
Mrs. Otchere announced that the Trust has finalized an arrangement with the Ghana Revenue Authority to share data (PAYE records) which is likely to lead to an increase in the number of workers being insured to receive pension from SSNIT.
This, she mentioned, would also help ensure employers pay the right contributions for their workers to receive commensurate pensions.
Improvement in Benefits Processing time and Payments
The Deputy Director-General applauded her team for improving the time retirees had to wait to receive their first pension pay. “Pensions processing time is now averaging 10 days, a far cry from the 47 days in 2016. This is indeed a remarkable feat and I applaud you all for this”. She said,
She further added 41,508 names of pensioners who had not re-enrolled biometrically or had not completed/renewed the Pensioner Certificates have been deleted from the pension payroll since the exercise started in 2018. Out of this number, a total of 17,175 pensioners have been reactivated. As of November 2021, an amount of GHS 186,584,652.41 has been held.
Increasing Active Contributor Base
The Deputy SSNIT boss indicated that of the 5.8 million registered Members of the SSNIT Pension Scheme, only 1.7million are active contributors. She, therefore, charged the Branch and Area Managers to engage the inactive Members and encourage them to resume contributing into the Scheme to guarantee them pension during old age.
The chairman of the conference, Mr. Kofi Osafo Maafo, commended managers in the Operations and Benefits Divisions of the Trust and charged them to be efficient in their work to improve sustainability.