President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo on Wednesday directed the Employment and Labour Relations Minister to resolve all pension issues within the next three months.
The President asked the Minister to liaise with the Social Security and National Insurance Trust (SSNIT) and the National Pensions Regulatory Authority (NPRA) to bring finality to all outstanding pension issues.
He gave the directive when he addressed this year’s May Day Celebration Parade attended by thousands of unionised workers at the Independence Square in Accra.
The Day was observed on the theme: “Sustainable Pension for All: The Role of Social Partners.”
Noting the critical contribution of labour to the production process, economic growth and sustained development, the President indicated that the dignity of labour ought to be maintained throughout retirement.
He said a robust economy and a prosperous society could only be built “when we put in place a sustainable pension scheme for all workers.”
“For far too many of our people, the end of their lives is marked by poverty. Too many people either have no pensions at all or have inadequate pensions to match the needs of old age.”
President Akufo-Addo was not happy that most people in the informal sector of the economy worked without any thought to pension coverage, and “when they no longer have the strength to work, their lives become miserable.”
He said attention should be focused on extending pension coverage to the 90 per cent of workers who operated in the informal sector in compliance with the National Pension Law.
“At the moment, Government efforts are on course to establishing a Cocoa Farmers Pension Scheme. This trend would be extended to other worker groups in the informal economy,” he added.
The President indicated that Government was working to reduce unemployment in the country in order to expand the pension base, saying,
“We are working on an economic transformation agenda through the various job creation initiatives.”
He said those initiatives, including the Planting for Food and Jobs, One-District-One-Factory, Industrial Stimulus Package, Planting for Export and Rural Development, and private sector support schemes, had started bearing fruits, and “should soon start reducing unemployment and provide opportunities for citizens to work, earn higher incomes and contribute to their pensions.”
President Akufo-Addo encouraged Government’s social partners, employers and enterprise owners to comply with existing pension regulations and support their staff to contribute to pension schemes.
“We should all spread the news about the importance of pensions and the structures in place to ensure transparent and effective management of pension funds.”
On the pension arrears owed SSNIT by Government, the President disclosed that the Finance Ministry had arranged for the payment of GH¢200 million and a bond of GH¢700 million to settle the arrears owed to SSNIT.
“This will leave arrears of GH¢800 million, which will be included in next year’s budget.”
President Akufo-Addo stressed that government was determined to consolidating its relations with the social partners, in the post IMF era, with a landmark social partnership agreement being signed with Organised Labour, represented by the Trades Union Congress, the Ghana Employers’ Association.
The agreement, he said, would provide a medium for building a sense of cohesion, trust, self-management, frank and open discussions to champion the cause of development towards realising the vision of a Ghana Beyond Aid.
“Government is committed to a new social contract that promotes social dialogue in economic management and in the making of public policy. It is also to assure you, our workers and businesses, that you are our true development partners, and your ideas are critical in my Government’s model for economic management and development.”
“I am very confident that this new approach to economic management and public policy-making will foster even greater cooperation and trust among our Partners. Together, we can achieve a more stable economy, peace at the labour front and prosperity for the good people of Ghana.”