The President of the Republic, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, has tasked the Minister for Employment and Labour Relations 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 in the next three (3) months.
Addressing the 2019 May Day Celebration on Wednesday, 1st May, 2019, at the Black Star Square, President Akufo-Addo noted that the critical contribution of labour to the production process, economic growth and sustained development requires that the dignity of labour is maintained throughout retirement.
"We will build a robust economy and a prosperous society, 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," the President said.
In the informal sectors of the economy, President Akufo-Addo lamented that "most people work without any thought to pension coverage, and when they no longer have the strength to work, their lives become miserable."
With about about 90% of workers operating in the informal sector, the President indicated that attention must be focused on extending access to that sector in compliance with the National Pension law.
"At the moment, Government efforts are on course to establish a Cocoa Farmers Pension Scheme. This trend would be extended to other worker groups in the informal economy," he added.
Government, President Akufo-Addo said, is working to reduce unemployment in the country, so as to widen the pension base.
"We are working on an economic transformation agenda through the various job creation initiatives such "Planting for Food and Jobs", "One-District-One-Factory", "Industrial Stimulus Package", "Planting for Export and Rural Development", private sector support schemes, which are all beginning to bear fruit, and should soon start reducing unemployment and provide opportunities for citizens to work, earn higher incomes and contribute to their pensions," he added.
Touching on the importance of the Technical and Vocational Education Training (TVET) sector in equipping young people for the world of work, the President stated that significant progress has been made
"We have funding for 21 State of the Arts TVET centres. Parliamentary approval has been given for all 34 NVTI centres to be upgraded, retooled and curricula improved and teachers trained," he said.
The President continued, "It also includes the building of two new foundries and two machine making factories, and the completion of NVTI headquarters. We have also got parliamentary approval for all 10 Technical Universities and Technical Institutes to be re-equipped, retooled and rehabilitated."
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," he added.
Towards the payment of arrears owed SSNIT, President Akufo-Addo indicated that "I am informed that the Ministry of Finance has arranged for the payment of GH¢200million and a bond of GH¢700 million towards the retirement of the arrears owed to SSNIT. This will leave arrears of GH¢800 million which will be included in next year's budget."
Social Partnership Council
Reiterating government's determination to consolidate further its relations with the social partners, in the post IMF era, President Akufo-Addo noted that a landmark social partnership agreement with Organised Labour represented by the Trades Union Congress, the Ghana Employers' Association, has been signed.
This, he explained, is to provide a medium for building a sense of cohesion, trust, self-management, frank and open discussions to champion the course 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," he added.
President Akufo-Addo revealed further that a Social Partnership Council with equal representation from the three social partners will be inaugurated soon.
"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," President Akufo-Addo added.