The Social Security and National Insurance Trust (SSNIT) says it has paid GH¢59.6 million to 19,918 pensioners, being the difference in past credits due those pensioners.
It said the amount constituted four per cent of contributors’ salaries, accumulated with interest from the dates on which the contributions were received by the trust, up to December 31, 2009.
A statement issued by the management of SSNIT in Accra yesterday said the trust had, by that payment, complied with the agreement signed between SSNIT, on the one hand, and the ministers of Finance, Employment and Labour Relations and representatives of some labour unions, on the other.
“These payments are as a result of implementing the agreement reached in a memorandum of understanding between the government and sections of organised labour on the interest rate applied to the accrued past credit, which is a one-time benefit for pensioners who are retiring under the National Pensions Act, 2008, Act 766,” it said.
It added that the accrued past credits grew at the full 91-day treasury bill rate, compounded quarterly until the date of payment to the beneficiary.
The statement by SSNIT is in response to concerns raised by some unions that pensioners were being short-changed by the trust in the payment of past credits.
Last Wednesday, about 13 public sector unions threatened to embark on an industrial action following what they described as low past credits being paid by SSNIT to pensioners.
The umbrella body, the Forum for Public Sector Registered Pension Schemes, accused SSNIT of short-changing retirees by not paying the right past credits due them.
The forum includes occupational pension schemes set up by unions such as the Ghana Medical Association (GMA), the Ghana Registered Nurses and Midwives Association (GRNMA), the Ghana Hospital Pharmacists Association (GHOPSA), the Ghana National Association of Teachers (GNAT), the Judicial Service Staff Association of Ghana (JUSSAG) and the Civil and Local Government Staff Association, Ghana (CLOGSAG).
The group held a press conference, at which it said the past credits that appeared on the statements of pensioners were higher than what SSNIT had paid to beneficiaries.
The Chairman of the forum, Mr Isaac Bampoe Addo, said there was evidence that the past credit that appeared on the beneficiary statements in October/November 2019 was higher than the amount that was paid to retirees in 2020.
“Within two weeks, if a proper and acceptable basis for the payment of past credits is not arrived at, the forum will have no option but ask its members to embark on an industrial action,” he said.
The statement from SSNIT explained that the past credit plus additional accrued interest, which had been adjusted from 75 per cent to 100 per cent of the prevailing treasury bill rate from January 1, 2010 till the date of retirement, was what SSNIT paid to the members as part of their lump sum.
“This application of 100 per cent of the 91-day treasury bill rate, compounded quarterly, in determining the additional accrued interest is what has yielded the over GH¢59.6 million additional payment to members who are receiving their pension under Act 766,” it said.
It added that members who might have any challenges regarding their past credit should call the SSNIT contact centre on 0302 611622.
“Management wishes to assure all would-be pensioners and the public that it will at all times pay all legitimate benefits and continuously work to guarantee timely payment of benefits,” it said.
Following the passage of the National Pensions Act, 2008 (Act 766), which took effect in 2010, a three-tier pension scheme was introduced.
The first and the second tiers are mandatory, while the third is voluntary.
Under Act 766, SSNIT manages the first tier, under which it pays a monthly pension to beneficiaries.
The second tier is managed by occupational pension schemes, which pay a lump sum to beneficiaries, while the third tier, which is voluntary, is a privately managed provident fund or pension scheme.
Prior to Act 766, SSNIT was managing a one-off pension scheme in which it pays monthly pension, as well as a lump sum, to beneficiaries.
With the coming into force of Act 766, the occupational pension schemes are supposed to be managed for lump-sum payments. However, because some contributors had already made contributions to SSNIT for lump sums before Act 776 came into force in 2010, those who went on retirement from 2010 to 2019 got their lump sums from SSNIT, as pertained to the old pension regime, while the rest had their lump sums converted into past credits.
Under Section 94(1)(d) of Act 766, those past credits should be paid to contributors based on a formula determined by a pension implementation committee, which is based on actuarial assessment.