Business News of Thursday, 22 February 2018
The Social Security and National Insurance Trust (SSNIT) has embarked on an exercise to cleanse its payroll system of 8,366 pensioners who have failed to comply with directives to register biometrically.
Out of the number, 6,129 are between the ages of 72 and 79, while 1,851 are from 80 to 89 and 386 are 90 and above.
So far, the names of 386 pensioners have been deleted from the SSNIT payment system.
The exercise is aimed at protecting the fund from being financially abused by non-existent retired workers.
In an interview with the Daily Graphic in Accra on Wednesday, the Director-General of SSNIT, Dr John Ofori-Tenkorang, said all those whose names had been deleted so far were 90 years and above.
He said the names of an additional 1,851 pensioners, aged between 80 and 89, would be deleted in March 2018.
Dr Ofori-Tenkorang told the Daily Graphic that the names of 6,129 pensioners between the ages of 72 and 79 would be removed from the SSNIT payroll in April 2018.
He said SSNIT had, since August 2017, given several notices, through the media, urging retired workers on the scheme to register biometrically with the trust.
According to him, it was announced that those who failed to comply would be taken off the payroll in 2018.
He said the affected persons would be put back into the system when they complied with the SSNIT directive.
The Director-General of SSNIT said 35,252 pensioners had so far complied with the directives to register biometrically.
He said the value of the net assets of the trust increased by GH¢978.5 million in 2017.
According to the new management, the value of the fund as of January 2015 was GH¢8.8 billion, but it reduced by GH¢17.5 million in December 2016.
However, the implementation of rigorous and aggressive plans by the new management has resulted in turning round the fortunes of the trust.
He said the new management of SSNIT managed to shore up the fund’s assets with GH¢978.5 million, thereby bringing the fund’s new financial position to a total of GH¢10.8 billion.
He said the increase in profit was partly due to an increase in the value of some of SSNIT’s investments.
Dr Ofori-Tenkorang said the fund achieved the feat, despite the negative press it faced in the $72-million software scandal currently being investigated by the Economic and Organised Crime Office (EOCO).
He said aside from the increase in investments, SSNIT embarked on aggressive cost-cutting.
Stating some of the reasons leading to the shore up in profit, he said there used to be a situation where managers due for retirement went for training programmes abroad, only for them to retire, in some cases two weeks after returning from abroad.
That, he said, was costing the trust huge sums and, as part of moves to save the trust from needless spending, that policy had been cancelled.
Another initiative, he said, was the reduction in the amount paid as per diem to staff.
He said in the past, per diem for members of staff covered the time when they were on flights, but the new policy had now restricted per diem to only nights spent outside the jurisdiction while on official duties.
“In short, we have cut out all the unnecessary costs, including the practice where board secretaries and director-generals were paid for attending board meetings,” Dr Ofori-Tenkorang said, adding: “We now pay only board members who are not executive directors of SSNIT.”
Touching on procurement, the SSNIT Director-General said there were many items slated for procurement before he assumed office but a cursory study of them showed that most of the items were needless.
He stated, for instance, that the IT software which was procured in the past was subject of investigation and for that reason it was out of place to go in for more IT equipment when existing problems had not been resolved.
According to him, the trust had revised its treasury policy, explaining that it was, in the past, benefitting from the current treasury bill rate plus one per cent anytime it lent to banks.
The revision, he said, had resulted in the trust gaining as much as between three and five per cent in addition to the treasury bill rate.
“We made 5.3 per cent profit this year in treasury bill rate, compared to one per cent in the past. This has fetched a lot of money for the trust,” the SSNIT Boss said.
With reference to securities for lending to banks, he indicated that in the past SSNIT did not take securities from the banks after lending to them.
That move, he said, had changed, saying that in the new policy, banks were required to deposit securities before they were lent money.
“When we came, we found out that we were placing money with banks without security. Now we require cover for everything that we place, so we can recoup our money in the event of a default,” Dr Ofori-Tenkorang stated.
He told the Daily Graphic that SSNIT recorded the achievements within what he termed “a very challenging environment”.
He said the trust had put in place plans to rigorously ensure that employers paid their employees’ contributions.
He assured Ghanaians that the new management was poised to continuously shore up the fortunes of the trust to guarantee the pension contributions of workers.
“We will not relent in ensuring that workers and pensioners get value for their money. We are here because of contributors and pensioners and we promise not to disappoint them,” Dr Ofori-Tenkorang added.
He said the trust had decided to scale back drastically on its sponsorship programmes for 2018 as part of moves to focus on its core mandate of effectively managing pension funds.
He said it had, in the past, spent millions of dollars in sponsorship packages that did not form part of its core mandate.
“If SSNIT has any largesse to spread around, it must go to contributors and pensioners,” Dr Ofori-Tenkorang stated, adding: “The trust wants to redirect its energies into engaging in activities that fall within its mandate.”