The Social Security and National Insurance Trust (SSNIT) has rejected suggestions from former President John Dramani Mahama to consider payment of token to SNNIT contributors to ease the COVID-19 induced hardships on the lives of contributors.
The former president in a digital conversation on Twitter on Thursday April 23, said SSNIT contributions are not only meant for pensioners but also work as a form of insurance to cushion members from difficult times such as COVID-19.
“Social security contributions are essentially an insurance scheme made not just for pensions in old age before we die. They are also made to help contributors in times of adversities such as this. Not all will come out and queue for food, but 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 this abnormal times,” he explained.
According to SSNIT, the suggestions by the former president would be a breach of the law governing the Trust when implemented.
The Corporate Affairs Manager of the trust, Afua Amankwa Sarkodie, said section 34 of Act 766 entrusts SSNIT to pay four categories of beneficiaries of which the suggestions by the erstwhile president is not inclusive.
“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.”
“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.
Meanwhile, a labour consultant, Austin Gamey, supports the former President’s suggestion.
According to him, the law could be amended to allow for such a suggestion since the country is 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.