Low SSNIT enrollment scheme poses threat to informal workers


Statistics from the Social Security and National Insurance Trust (SSNIT) have revealed a concerning issue in Ghana’s pension landscape, as only a mere 0.5 percent of the informal sector’s active workforce is currently enrolled in the tier-one scheme.

This startling statistic raises serious concerns about the majority of informal sector workers’ financial security in the country.

Out of approximately 600,000 individuals working within the informal sector who have some form of pension coverage, only a fraction has enrolled in the crucial tier-one programme. Given that an estimated 6.1 million Ghanaians work in the informal sector, and about half of them fall within the age range of 15 to 45 – the eligible age for SSNIT enrollment, this presents a significant gap. Roughly 3.2 million eligible workers have not yet taken advantage of the scheme, leaving them without a financial safety net for their retirement years.

Dr. John Ofori-Tenkorang, Director General-SSNIT, disclosed these disturbing figures during an interview with B&FT at a forum held at Tamale in the Northern Region. He emphasised the urgency of addressing this issue, stating: “In the next few years, we are targetting about 60 percent of the vibrant youth working in the informal sector to be covered under the SSNIT scheme”.

The Director General said, historically, there has been a misconception that the SSNIT scheme primarily caters to government sector workers. This misconception has deterred many from enrolling: particularly in the Northern Region, where the engagement process has faced difficulties due to concerns about small financial institutions absconding with informal sector investments. Dr. Tenkorang pointed out that this misperception is hindering individuals from making investments and securing their future.

To address these challenges and encourage enrollment, SSNIT has embraced digitalisation through the development of various strategies for contributors to make payments conveniently and securely without need for intermediaries. Moreover, SSNIT has streamlined its processes; aiming to ensure that retirees receive their pensions within ten days after retirement, reducing the bureaucratic hassles that contributors and retirees often face.

The Ghana Card’s introduction has significantly improved management’s ability to identify citizens and enrol them in various schemes, in contrast to the previous costly biometric card system. Furthermore, SSNIT has established efficient means of remitting money – eliminating the need for beneficiaries to visit their offices. Dr. Tenkorang highlighted that these efforts are aligned with government’s commitment to the importance of pensions being electronic levy (E-levy) exempt.

For transparency and awareness, SSNIT now sends contributors quarterly statements to help them monitor their contributions. Those who do not receive these statements are encouraged to visit an office for updates, or provide their email addresses for electronic statements.

Dr. Tenkorang emphasised that these collective efforts aim to protect the financial futures of all Ghanaian workers. He stated: “All these measures have made it right for us to preach the gospel according to SSNIT; the message of ensuring that all workers in Ghana, irrespective of their occupation, have a secure financial future”. SSNIT is committed to ongoing advocacy efforts in educating citizens across the country about the importance of enrolling onto the SSNIT scheme.

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