PwC to audit SSNIT operations …5 officials already under EOCO investigation
A contract has been signed for PricewaterhouseCoopers to audit the operations of the Social Security and National Insurance Trust (SSNIT), and at the signing, Dr. Kwame Addo Kufour, the new Board Chairman, talked tough, assuring that officials found to have done wrong will not be spared.
Already, he revealed, five officials are under investigation by the Economic and Organised Crime Office (EOCO) for various offences, and that 15 others have been called for questioning as witnesses, saying, they will face prosecution should they be found guilty.
When the PwC audit is complete, Dr Addo Kufour said: “Anybody found to have acted improperly or criminally will be sent to EOCO and from there to Attorney General’s office. If by then the Public Prosecutor has been established, then we will take the person to the Public Prosecutor. Whoever is found guilty will really be firmly dealt with. That is a promise.”
The independent review and baseline assessment of the status of SSNIT will cover four main areas of its operations, namely: financial management, risk management, information technology management, and human resource management.
It will seek to review the financial records and state of affairs of SSNIT for the period as at March 31, 2017.
The purpose, Dr. Addo Kufour said, will be to ascertain whether transactions conducted conform to established procedures and accepted standards.
The review will also involve an audit of the IT systems to identify and document gaps in the system in view of the large expenditure on a new operating system.
Again, the review will access the internal control and financial management systems to identify any weakness and make recommendations based on best practices.
It will, still, review human resource functions and comment on the adequacy of policies and systems for recruitment, training, performance management and compensation.
He said the review exercise was necessary to help stakeholders know the true status of the Trust and to restore lost faith and confidence among the public.
The trust, he said, has failed to live up to its purpose, owing to financial irregularities, improper management practices, high management costs, and imprudent investments, which have acted as a “drain on the resources of the Trust”.
The new board he leads, Dr Addo Kufour said, as well as the management, will see to it that such situations are addressed for SSNIT to serve the country better.
Director General of SSNIT, John Ofori-Tenkorang, also assured that the Trust will, going forward, act in the best interest of contributors and pensioners.
“For me and my management team, we want to make SSNIT like a club. You, as a contributor have to be the person that benefits from SSNIT. So, from now on, my view is that everything that we do at SSNIT, the first question we must ask is: ‘how does it benefit the pensioner?”, he said.
SSNIT has said that the findings of the review will offer it guidance in the formulation of strategies and plans to ensure that objectives of the pension reforms will improve the income security of workers; increase coverage of the Trust, especially the informal sector; reduce administrative cost, and ensure good returns on investment as well as ensure that SSNIT is managed effectively, efficiently, and with high level of integrity.
When he inaugurated the new Board of Trustees in April, Finance Minister, Ken Ofori-Atta, expressed worry over rising operational costs at SSNIT, calling for “effective cost control and management measures to ensure the sustainability of the fund.”
“The challenge facing the institution would be the need to maintain effective cost control and management measures to ensure the sustainability of the fund,” the Finance Minister said.
The introduction of the 3-tier Contributing Pension Scheme in January 2010, has resulted in a decline in SSNIT contributions, by about 12 percent in 2016 as compared to the year before.
The scheme currently has active contributors of about a 1.33 million and the contributions for the year 2016 amounted to GH¢1. 86 billion.
Whilst there is a government debt and arrears of over GH¢600million, benefits have risen 42percent to GH¢1.75billion, from 2015 to 2016.
Investment assets of the Trust stood at GH¢7,955.64 million in 2015.