Supervisory ministry brouhaha leaves NPRA without board

It has been a year and three months since the last board of the National Pensions Regulatory Authority (NPRA) was dissolved, just like many other state institutions.

Whereas most of those institutions have had their boards reconstituted, that of the NPRA, a critical state institution whose work borders on ensuring that millions of Ghanaian workers retire comfortably, is yet to have its own.

A source close to the situation told the B&FT that government’s decision to move the NPRA’s supervision from the Labour Ministry to the Finance Ministry is responsible for the delay in reconstituting the board.

The 2017 budget statement indicates that: “The Ministry of Finance will now be the supervising Ministry, in collaboration with the Ministry of Employment and Labour Relations, for the National Pensions Regulatory Authority. This is because, just like the SEC, the NPRA is a financial service regulator but of the pensions industry that also deals with a lot of Labour issues.

Pensions are about finance: financial contributions; financial investments; and benefit pay-out. All the above are financial decisions affecting employees hence the decision to have joint oversight by the two ministries,” Finance Minister, Ken Ofori-Atta, said when he read that budget.

However, more than a year down the line, that decision seems to have created ‘confusion’ as to which ministry is responsible for reconstituting NPRA’s board.

The NPRA’s Chief Executive Officer, Hayford Atta Krufi, told the B&FT earlier this month that although the authority’s management is in charge of its day to day running, its overall strategic direction rests on a board.

“If you look at the National Pension Act, the bulk of the work that NPRA has to do relates to the board; the board takes strategic decisions as far the direction of the NPRA is concern, while management is in charge of the day to day management of the Authority.

So, there is a dichotomy of roles between the board and management. So, we indeed need a board to be in place so as to drive the overall strategic vision of the authority,” he said.

According to the National Pensions Act 766, 2008, NRPA’s board is, among other things, responsible for its policy direction and proper and effective performance.

According to Hayford Atta Krufi, “because the authority comes under the joint oversight of the Ministry of Employment and Labour Relations, and the Ministry of Finance, we are waiting on them to constitute the board, so as to enable the authority play its regulatory role in the pensions industry.”

Both ministries declined to comment on the situation when the B&FT contacted them.

In July 2017, the Forum for Public Sector Registered Pension Schemes, made up of various unions and associations, including the Civil and Local Government Staff Association, the Judicial Service Staff Association of Ghana, and the Ghana Medical Association, warned the Finance Ministry to steer clear of the NPRA.

“The situation where the Ministry of Finance was trying to assume oversight responsibility over pensions was not the best as it was supposed to be managed by the Ministry for Employment and Labour Relations.

The Minister of Finance cannot amend an Act of Parliament with a budget statement. Per Section 13 of Act 766 the Minister Employment and Labour Relations is responsible for Pensions and should remain as such,” the forum said.