‘The law doesn’t permit us’ – SSNIT turns down suggestion to pay tokens to contributors.
The Social Security and National Investment Trust (SSNIT) has turned down suggestions from former President John Dramani Mahama to consider giving out token payment to contributors as coronavirus cripples the livelihood of many.
In a televised address to the nation on Thursday, the leader of the opposition party argued that contributions made to SSNIT were not only meant for pensioners but also workers, as a form of insurance to cushion members during periods like this.
“Social security contributions are essentially an insurance scheme made not just for pensions in old age before they die. They are also made to help contributors in times of adversities such as this,” he said.
According to him, not all who are struggling to feed will come out and queue for food and so it was important for the government to include people in such category when planning relief packages.
“Just as has been done in other countries like St. Lucia, I think a token payment to all contributors of a certain token sum over three months would have afforded many the assurance of feeding their families during these abnormal times” he explained.
But the Trust in response said the suggestion when implemented would break the law.
The Corporate Affairs Manager of the trust, Afua Amankwa Sarkodie, said they were unable to implement the suggestion from the former President because it would violate the law that sets them (Trust) up.
“We have taken notice of the former President’s call but the sure answer to that is as you know, we are governed by an act of parliament, the National Pension Law, 2008 Act 766, talks all about our mandate, what we can and what we cannot do”
Referring to section 34 of Act 766, Afua Amankwa Sarkodie said the law enjoined the trust to pay four categories of beneficiaries
“The law is specific on the categories; old age persons, invalid persons, old age lump sum benefits and survivor’s lump-sum benefits, these are the benefits that the law clearly spells out and we have been committed to paying these benefits even during these times”
“We cannot be seen doing contrary to what the law mandates us to do, that would constitute a breach,” she said.
Wading into the conversation, a Labour consultant, Austin Gamey, believed the former President’s suggestion was in good faith.
According to him, the law could be amended to make provision for the suggestion since the country was not in ordinary times.
“The wise thing to do at this particular time is for SSNIT to support legitimate contributors who are in active force [but financially down], I think it is a wise call and people should not take it from the traditional political partisan point of view,” he said.