The Minister for Employment and Labour Relations, Ignatius Baffour-Awuah, has expressed worry over the growing number of the aged who are not covered by any form of pension scheme, hence have to depend on the working population to survive.
According to him, out of 11.9 million workers, less than 2 million currently contribute to a pension scheme in the country. This, he said, has resulted in a situation where the country’s working class is compelled to cater for those not working, children, and the aged.
He stated that the situation has reached an alarming point where public sector workers cite it as a key factor when negotiating for wage increment. “We did a study at the ministry and realised that the reason why workers often demand for pay rise is because most of them are taking care of their aged parents who cannot work.
If my disposable income is GH¢10 and eventually I have to use half of it to take care of my aged parents, then obviously when I go the negotiation table, I will not be thinking just about myself. I will be thinking of my aged parents,” he said during the swearing-in ceremony of the board of trustees of the Cocoa Farmers Pension Scheme.
Describing situation as unhealthy for the economy, Mr. Baffour-Awuah said ideally, the working population must take care of their children and invest into the future. This, he said, must be done simultaneously with pension plans to reduce the number of aged people who depend on the working population to survive.
He observed that the problem is worsened by parents who still have the mindset that their children must grow to take care of them, hence no need to contribute to any pension scheme. “We went to Sunyani with the National Pensions Regulatory Authority (NPRA) to open a branch there and we were surprised when some parents told us that for them the best form of pension is to take care of their children so that the children will cater for them when they are old,” he said.
He stated that with such a mindset the dependency ratio on the working population is bound to increase, stifling the opportunity for young people to invest and create their own businesses.
Mr. Baffour-Awuah called for education and reorientation to encourage workers to contribute to a pension scheme for the future. “We must let our parents know that your child may not always have enough to give you money. Everybody must plan for their own retirement and not see their children as a pension scheme,” he stressed.