General News of Wednesday, 20 September 2017
The National Pensions Regulatory Authority (NPRA) has asked the Social Security and National Insurance Trust (SSNIT) to furnish it with more information on the recent happenings within the trust, particularly on circumstances under which they procured the controversial software.
The request could lead to a second investigation into the operations of the first tier pension’s manager.
The information is needed to give the NPRA a clearer insight into recent allegations of financial misappropriation and non-adherence to proper corporate governance at SSNIT, the authority’s Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Mr Hayford Atta Krufi, said at the Graphic Business/Stanbic Bank Breakfast Meeting on pensions in Accra on Tuesday.
“This is needed to guide the authority, which regulates the pensions industry, in its next line of action aimed at ensuring that SSNIT is well structured to help forestall a repeat of similar actions,” Mr Krufi said at the meeting held on the theme: ‘The role of pensions in national economic development and sustainability.’
The NPRA is the regulator of the pensions industry of which SSNIT, a manager of the tier one pensions, also known as defined benefits (DBs) scheme, is a key player.
Prior to the request for extra information, Mr Krufi said the authority had “invited” officials of SSNIT to explain to it “why these are happening.”
“This issue is a subject of investigation and I will not want to comment further but what I can say is we are also looking into it,” he stated.
Protecting contributors’ interest
SSNIT was, in August this year, hit by a myriad of issues, including allegations of financial misappropriation in the procurement and deployment of information and communications technology software valued at about $72 million.
Beyond dampening public confidence in the operations of the trust, the issues led to many people questioning the health of their pension contributions.
While those concerns were well grounded, the NPRA CEO said there was no cause for alarm, because the contributors’ funds were intact.
“We are very much interested in what’s happening because it has an impact on the industry and contributors,” Mr Krufi said.
A former Managing Director of SIC Insurance Ltd, Mr Peter Osei Duah, who was a panellist at the meeting, said the NPRA needed to be properly empowered to be able to regulate SSNIT.
“I believe the problem we have is very simple: the entity that is supposed to regulate SSNIT, the NPRA, is nowhere as powerful as SSNIT.
“Until that changes, I do not see anything changing. We need to have a situation where it becomes clear that SSNIT reports to the NPRA. We need to empower my good friend here (NPRA boss) and give him enough powers to summon the Director-General of SSNIT and anybody, including their board chairman, to his office and query them,” he added.