Review pensions to include allowances and non-cash benefits—National Labour Conference

Kwahu-Nkwatia,- The maiden National Labour Conference has urged the Government to review the pensionable income to include allowances and non-cash benefits to enhance benefits after retirement.

In a 31-point communique, issued at the end of the two-day Conference, they noted that pensions were part of working conditions and must be prioritised by employers for the benefit of workers.

Social partners should, therefore, work together to consolidate the gains in working conditions for better, coverage, protection and compliance.

The conference also urged the Government and Organised Labour to accelerate their engagement to ensure that all outstanding issues related to the Temporary Pensions funds Account (TPFA) were resolved so that retirees received their full entitlements.

Following the implementation of a three-tier Pension Scheme under the Pensions Act 766 of 2008, there has been challenges with transferring funds into the accounts of tier two pension schemes because of legacy arrears, among others.

The delegates also asked the Tripartite Group to initiate a national dialogue on pensions scheme unifications.

The communique, was jointly signed by Finance Minister Ken Ofori-Atta, Employment and Labour Relations Minister Ignatius Baffour Awuah, representing Government, Dr Anthony Yaw Baah, representing Organised Labour and Mr Daniel Acheampong, representing Employers.

This was after the more than 100 delegates had deliberated issues under four thematic areas: the State of the Economy; Conditions of Service of Public Sector Workers, Public Sector Salaries, Labour Productivity; Labour Dispute Prevention and Resolution; and Sustainable Pensions for all.

The Conference also charged SSNIT to implement administrative reforms to reduce administrative cost, rebalance its investment portfolios and ensure prudent management of investments, as well as increased contribution rate.

The National Pensions Regulatory Authority (NPRA) was also urged to build the necessary capacity to regulate, monitor and supervise all pensions schemes to promote sustainability of the schemes, as well as ensure regular actuarial assessment of SSNIT and all schemes for sustainability.

The Government, under Act 766 of 2008, established the new contributory three-tier pension scheme, which comprises two mandatory schemes and a voluntary scheme as follows: a first-tier mandatory basic national social security scheme which will incorporate an improved system of SSNIT benefits, mandatory for all employees in both the private and public sectors.

The second-tier occupational (or work-based) pension scheme is mandatory for all employees but privately managed, and designed primarily to give contributors higher lump sum benefits than presently available under the CAP 30 and SSNIT pension scheme.

However, the third-tier voluntary provident fund and personal pension schemes, supported by tax benefit incentives, is to provide additional funds for workers who want to make voluntary contributions to enhance their pension benefits and also for workers in the informal sector.

The monthly contribution under tier one, which is supposed to pay a monthly income to retirees, is 13.5, per cent of the basic salary, with 2.5 per cent being remitted towards the employee’s National Health Insurance, leaving 11 per cent as premium.

Upon retirement, SSNIT replaces up to 60 per cent of the contributor’s monthly salary as pension.

At present, the lowest monthly paid pension is GHC300.00, while the highest is more than GHC142,500. The Law has, however, capped the highest to GHC35,000.

The contribution under Tier-Two schemes, responsible for paying the lump sum to pensioners is five per cent, while Tier-three requires monthly contributions of up to 16.5% of the employee’s basic salary.

The CAP30 pension scheme, which is to be harmonised with the others, is a non-contributory pension scheme instituted in 1952 under the Pensions Ordinance, No 42 of Chapter 30, for civil servants in the service before 1972.

The delegates raised concerns over inadequacies of the level of pensions to sustain a respectable life for retired public servants.

The conference, held at Kwahu-Nkwatia in the Eastern Region, was under the theme, “Strengthening Tripartism for Peaceful Labour Relations and Resilient Economy”.

Organised by the Ministry of Employment and Labour Relations, with its Tripartite Constituents, it was aimed at building consensus and adopting a blueprint that would inform and shape Government’s approach for the resolution of labour issues.

The delegates deliberated the socio-economic challenges confronting the nation amid the causes of labour disputes and pledged to play their respective roles and support one another to address the challenges and create the conducive working atmosphere to propel national development.

The macroeconomy, growth and social protection should not be compromised, while meeting the demands of labour, they agreed.

Vice President Mahamudu Bawumia, closed the two-day conference, chaired by the Kwahuhene, Daasebre Akuamoah Agyapong II on March 1, 2022.

The delegates urged the Tripartite to work together for the maintenance of macroeconomic stability and building and sustenance of a resilient economy for the achievement of national development objectives.

President Akufo-Addo was also commended by the Conference for accepting a proposal to institutionalise the National Labour Conference at Kwahu Nkwatia as an annual event.

Source: Ghana News Agency