It would be violation of law to pay COVID-19-affected contributors –  SSNIT

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The Social Security and National Insurance Trust (SSNIT) has said it cannot make payment to contributors outside its monthly payments to qualified beneficiaries, as doing so would amount to violation of the National Pensions Act, 2008, Act 766.

The Trust, in a statement reacting to comments by former President John Mahama in which he suggested that SSNIT makes a token payment to all contributors over a three-month period as a way easing the economic impact of the virus on contributors, said although it understands and appreciates the challenges some workers and employers are encountering as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, the law permits payments under only four conditions, of which the current situation does not apply.

Per provisions of the law, the statement mentioned superannuation pension – old age pension; invalidity – when a worker becomes permanently incapacitated; old age lump-sum benefit – refund of contributions with interest; and survivor’s lump-sum benefit – an amount paid to nominated dependants of a deceased contributor/pensioner, as the only permitted circumstances in which payment can be made.

“While we take notice of the sentiments of John Mahama, we wish to bring his attention to the fact that the Trust is a creature of law emanating from the National Pensions Act, 2008, Act 766 which governs the administration of SSNIT and all other pension schemes in the country.

“The benefits His Excellency is suggesting that we pay do not exist in law. To do so would constitute an illegality and a contravention of provisions of the National Pensions Act, 2008, Act 766,” the statement added.

The Trust also admitted that even though these are not normal times, it remains firmly committed to paying over GH¢213million in monthly pensions to the 213,173 pensioners on the SSNIT payroll – as well as honouring payments to all new pensioners that apply.

“The management of SSNIT wishes to assure the general public that it is committed to the safety of its members and clients who may visit any of our offices to transact business. We are therefore observing all the necessary safety protocols such as social distancing, washing and sanitising of hands,” the statement further read.

Background

Former President and NDC presidential candidate John Mahama, in a Facebook live telecast last week, suggested that SSNIT makes a token payment to all contributors as part of efforts to alleviate the impact of novel coronavirus on Ghanaians. The spread of the virus led to a partial lockdown of Accra and Kumasi, which was lifted by President Nana Akufo-Addo a week ago, as well as a considerable slowdown in economic activity.

“Social security contributions are essentially an insurance scheme made not just for pension and old age before we die. They are also made to help contributors in times of adversity such as this,” former President Mahama said.

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