The Social Security and National Insurance Trust (SSNIT) has launched its long-awaited scheme to provide pensions and other benefits to self-employed people in the informal sector.
The initiative is known as the Self-Employed Enrolment Drive (SEED).
Speaking at the launch in Kumasi yesterday, Wednesday, the Director-General of SSNIT, Dr. John Ofori-Tenkorang, said they had previously engaged with stakeholders and discussed the benefits of the SEED.
According to him, SSNIT learned vital lessons from its different engagements and dialogues, which aided in the development of SEED.
In his opinion, if self-employed workers realised the value of the SSNIT scheme, they would gladly join it.
“If we had communicated the unparalleled value and benefits the SSNIT Scheme offers, not only would we see an improvement in self-compliance in the formal sector, but we would definitely have had more than just two percent of our active contributor base being self-employed”.
“SEED will help redefine social security in this country and give hope to the self-employed—the hope that they can also retire in dignity and comfort. We are going to rely heavily on the strengths of the Tier One product, and once we have convinced the self-employed to look at SSNIT again, we will get them to sign up”.
“They will sign up because what we are offering is an opportunity for them to insure their incomes so they can be replaced when they are old or become invalid and cannot work again. The same scheme will also pay a benefit to their survivors if they pass on”, Dr. Ofori-Tenkorang stated.
He said “Currently, about 1.9 million of the estimated 10 million workers in the country are covered under the SSNIT scheme.
Out of the 1.9 million active SSNIT contributors, just 32,000, representing about 2%, are self-employed.
What this implies is that most self-employed workers would have to rely on the state or family and friends for financial support when they are old and retired.
“This unbalanced coverage of workers is a sad commentary on our social protection system, and we have a responsibility to change this narrative. The SSNIT Scheme is not for formal sector employees only; it is for all workers in Ghana. Indeed, our highest-earning pensioner, who receives GHS 169,752.89 as a monthly pension, was a businessman”, the Director-General of SSNIT added.
He encouraged self-employed people to join the scheme because it provides lifelong benefits.
He admonished them to go to the local SSNIT office and contribute on a regular basis via ssnitpay, an electronic payment facility that accepts mobile money and debit cards.
Madam Elizabeth Ohene, the Board Chairman of SSNIT, who was present at the occasion, praised the initiative.
“A report indicates that of the two million people in the country who are over 60, only 11% receive regular pensions. What this means is that a lot of people in active service are burdened with taking care of their elderly parents and relatives. This trend is expected to continue if immediate steps are not taken to address it.
“The fact that we are now doing this after more than 50 years of the existence of SSNIT is simply not right, but I am very excited and encouraged that we are finally doing so. To think that several millions of workers in the country have no assurance of monthly pensions during their old age is quite scary”, she opined.
The Deputy Minister of Employment and Labour Relations, Hon. Bright Wereko Brobbey, expressed the gratitude of the Ministry for the giant steps SSNIT is taking to provide pension cover for the self-employed.
He underscored the need for SSNIT to encourage people who register with them to update their records when necessary.
“Most people, after registration, forget to update their records. So we have instances where people register at an early stage of their lives, and after their death, it comes out that neither their children nor spouse were nominated. I will urge the management of SSNIT to remind contributors to update their records”.
Meanwhile, the leadership of the various self-employed groups that were present at the launch of SEED encouraged their members to prioritize SSNIT Pension and sign onto the scheme to enjoy the benefits and income security.