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SSNIT Launches SEED Initiative Program

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Management of the Social Security and National Insurance Trust (SSNIT) has successfully launched a Self-Employed Enrollment Drive (SEED) program, an initiative that will truly change and impact the futures of many people who would have become dependent on others or would have had to continue to work in their old age when they should be comfortably retired.

Speaking at the official launch of the program in Kumasi today, Dr John Ofori-Tenkorang , General Director of SSNIT maintained that the launch today was the culmination of all the prep work and efforts they have put in the last year or so.

He said, their Board of Trustees were clear in their minds and determined to fulfil the mandate placed on them by the law that governs social security in this country.

That is, the mandate to extend pension coverage to all workers especially, the self-employed.

In pursuit of this agenda, Management carried out extensive engagements with various stakeholders across the country to solicit their input and support on how we could extend pension coverage to the self-employed.

“We gathered valuable lessons from representatives of state agencies, Civil Society Organisations (CSOs), Ghana Employers Association, national and regional leaders of trade associations (within the informal sector), Media and Entertainment industry players, religious leaders/groups among others.

The lessons learned have significantly helped shape the rollout of this campaign which we have dubbed, the Self-Employed Enrolment Drive (SEED) – which also represents a seed that must be sown.

SEED will help redefine social security in this country and give hope to our self–employed brothers and sisters; that they can also retire in dignity and comfort.

What these engagements also showed us is that, we had largely relied on the compulsion of the law to extend pension coverage to employees through their employers.

What this got us were several employers who complied begrudgingly, saw SSNIT as a tax, and tried very hard to pay the barest minimum by pushing most employee entitlements into allowances, and paying SSNIT contributions on minimal basic salaries.

This then snowballed into several pensioners receiving relatively small pensions (because small salaries/contributions equal small pensions and vice versa), which then made the Scheme unattractive, especially to the self–employed who are not obligated by law to join the Scheme.

Perhaps, if in spite of the law, we had communicated what I believe, is the unparalleled value and benefits the SSNIT scheme offers, not only would we see an improvement in self-compliance in the formal sector, but we would definitely have had more than just two percent of our active contributor base being self–employed.

This was re-echoed by leadership of the various trade associations and the other stakeholders we met last year. And it is instructive to note that, for each of these engagements, after we explained the value proposition of the Scheme…the response was always …” why have you kept this from us all this while?”
On a personal level, these engagements and this journey have convinced me that extending pension coverage to everyone who spends their best years toiling and working daily to build our country is simply the right thing to do. And our Scheme is further strengthened when more workers enroll.

The law has its place, but for this campaign, we are going to rely heavily if not exclusively on the strengths of the Tier One product, after all, they say, “adepa n’3ton ne ho”. We believe that once we have convinced the self–employed to look at SSNIT again, we will get them to sign up.

They will sign up because what we are offering is an opportunity for them to insure their incomes so it can be replaced when they are old or become invalid and cannot work again.

The same Scheme will also pay a benefit to their survivors if they pass on. This is akin to the insurance we all have on our vehicles, houses and other valuable assets we own. And I don’t know what could be more valuable than the incomes we all survive on.

Unfortunately, only about 1.9 million of the 10 million or so workers in the country are covered under the SSNIT Scheme. What is more disturbing is that only about 32,000, representing just about 2% (1.68%) of active contributors, are self-employed, despite the fact that majority of workers in the country are self-employed and/or work in the informal sector.

What this means is that most self-employed persons may have to work their entire lives even when they are old and frail or have to rely on the state or family and friends for financial support when they retire.

We must all work to fix this lopsided social security coverage of workers in the country. The SSNIT Scheme is not for formal sector employees only; it is for all workers in Ghana. Indeed, our highest earning pensioner (GHS 169,000) was a businessman.He stressed.

He revealed that, their offices and officers are ready to receive you with open arms and wide smiles.

“Our officers have been trained and will engage you in your preferred language. Visit us today, register, contribute and start the journey to building a financially independent future for yourselves during retirement.

But we are not just going to wait for you to come to our offices, we want to sign you up at your convenience, so we will be reaching out to you in your offices, at the markets, at the trotro/taxi stations, on digital media and other platforms.

Expect us at your various places of worship as well. Our officers will come to you, no matter where you are, to assist you to enrol. Once you’ve signed up, you don’t have to worry about coming to our offices to pay your monthly contributions or premiums. You can pay using ssnitpay, our electronic payment platform. You can also pay your premiums through the platform using mobile money (e-levy exempt) and debit cards.

By signing up and making monthly contributions, you, like your colleagues in the formal sector, are guaranteed monthly pensions when you retire or if you become permanently disabled. You get cover for your survivors as well. I also urge you to take your tier two and tier three contributions seriously. This will ensure that in addition to the monthly pensions you get from SSNIT, the other two tiers will each pay you a one-time lump sum when you retire.
I cannot end without thanking team SSNIT … my staff, my colleagues, for their commitment to the goal and the excitement and enthusiasm shown for the work ahead. I know without your buy-in, we couldn’t have travelled this far…and so thank you. I must thank the Chair and Members of the SSNIT Board, our Minister and our Regulator for their direction and support. To our stakeholders, partners and the Media, I say thank you for your input and constructive criticisms … and to the Ashanti Regional Minister and his team and Nananom, thank you for allowing us to come to your city for this launch.
And to you, our distinguished guests, we are grateful that you honoured our invitation to come join us launch this campaign. He concluded.

Source: Ayisah Foster|Broadcastergh.com

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