Regardless of the widely held notion on decreasing life expectancy among Ghanaians, the Social Security and National Insurance Trust (SSNIT) says its statistics indicated a reverse of the widely held misconception.
It said longevity on the pension’s payroll indicates a steady rise in life expectancy of contributors aged 72 from eight per cent in 2002 to 18 per cent in 2010 and 25 per cent in 2020.
Likewise, the percentage of contributors aged 80, rose from one per cent in 2002 to two per cent in 2010 and seven per cent in 2020.
Mr Joseph Poku, Chief Actuary with SSNIT disclosed this at stakeholders’ engagement on expanding and deepening coverage of the self-employed in Cape Coast.
The forum followed similar engagements in the Western, Bono, Greater Accra, Upper East, Upper West and Northern Regions to enable stakeholders buy-in and support to extend coverage of the SSNIT Scheme to the self-employed and workers in the informal sector.
It was on the theme: “Expanding pension coverage to the self-employed and informal sector workers.”
He attributed the phenomenon to among others, better health care and hygiene, healthier lifestyles, sufficient food and improved medical care and reduced child mortality.
The scheme assumes most of the contributors to the fund are expected to live up to 15 years after they retire, but he said, some pensioners live well above this assumption age putting some stress on the fund, but SSNIT was equal to task.
The primary responsibility of the Trust is to replace part of lost income of workers in Ghana due to Old Age, Invalidity or Death of a member where dependents receive lump sum payment. It is also responsible for the payment of immigration benefit to a non-Ghanaian member who is leaving Ghana permanently.
As an employee, one contributes 5.5percent of their basic salary whilst the employer adds up 13percent of the amount as payment to the fund.
Towards expanding the scheme, Mr Poku could not fathom why the country’s social protection system supported only 14,314 self-employed workers who contributed to the Scheme, representing some 0.8 per cent of the 1.7 million contributors on the scheme.
In all, there are about 11.5 million people in the informal sector in the country.
He said it had become necessary to extend coverage to informal sector workers, not only to increase active membership and contributors to the scheme but also ensure that every worker in the country enjoyed social protection.
The move will increase the number of insured persons to provide income replacement for every worker in the country, therefore, reducing poverty and over-dependence on family relations and friends for support during old age.
“That is why we are now paying more attention to our friends who are self-employed. The feedback we receive clearly shows little understanding among players in the informal sector of how the SSNIT scheme operates,” he said.
Mr Poku also described as erroneous the perception that people lost the value of their money when they insured their future incomes with SSNIT.
He said it was for that reason, among others, that SSNIT had decided to reach out and educate the people, through various channels, on the benefits of the scheme to encourage them to come on board to secure their future incomes.
Scheme is for all workers and not only those in the formal sector, he noted.
SSNIT or the Trust, is a statutory public institution charged under the National Pensions Act, 2008 (Act 766 as amended by Act 883) with the administration of Ghana’s Basic National Social Security Scheme.
Its mandate is to cater for the First-Tier of the Three-Tier Pension Scheme.
During an open forum, the Chief Fisherman for Egyaa, Nana Kwame Ababio and Madam Doris Abaidoo, a representative from Ghana National Dressmakers and Tailors Association (GNDTA) described the engagement as fruitful and pleaded with SSNIT to extend the education to the doorsteps of all workers in the informal sector.