Following calls by former President John Dramani Mahama for the Social Security and National Insurance Trust (SSNIT) to support contributors amid economic impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic, the Coalition of University Students is mounting pressure on government to amend the laws governing the Social Security and National Insurance Trust (SSNIT) to enable contributors to withdraw funds in times of crisis.
Mr. Mahama in a live social media encounter said monies contributed to SSNIT should not only be reserved for retirement purposes but should be used to alleviate the sufferings of its contributors in times like this.
SSNIT in a response disapproved Mr. Mahama’s request saying that “The benefits His Excellency is suggesting that we pay do not exist in law. To do so will constitute an illegality and a contravention of the provisions of the National Pensions Act, 2008, Act 766.”
SSNIT also stated 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”.
It is against this background that the Coalition of University Students is calling for an amendment of the National Pensions Act to allow SSNIT contributors to benefit their monies in times of crisis like the COVID-19 pandemic.
The group, in a statement copied to ABC News said the novel coronavirus pandemic, which led to the partial lockdown of certain cities and towns in the country, has led to job losses and brought untold hardship to a large portion of the citizenry.
The statement said “We, therefore, call on the government to amend the SSNIT law (ACT 2008) which hitherto only permitted workers to take home their pension allowance only after they have gone on retirement, [so they] can now have access to their cash in times of crises like the COVIS-19 pandemic. Amending (ACT 2008) under the SSNIT pension scheme will enable workers withdraw part of their pension allowance during difficult times like this period of COVID-19 pandemic, which has rendered a lot of breadwinners in Ghanaian homes jobless and beggars,” the group said in a statement.
Below is the full statement from the coalition:
COALITION OF UNIVERSITY STUDENTS CALLS ON GOVERNMENT TO AMEND SSNIT LAW TO ENABLE WORKERS RECEIVE SUPPORT DURING DIFFICULT TIMES.
“Laws are made for human beings, human beings are not made for law”, a legal dictum says.
Today we have been confronted with a crisis like no other before. The COVID-19 pandemic, a global enemy, has disrupted our social and economic order at lightning speed and on a devastating scale we have not seen in living memory.
The virus is causing traffic loss of life, the lockdown and ban on social gatherings as the available tools needed to combat it have affected adversely thousands of people and their businesses. Daily routines that were alive and kicking just a few months ago, have now become a huge risk for everyone.
On the 15th of March, 2020, the president of the Republic of Ghana, His Excellency Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, announced a ban on social gathering including the indefinite closure of all schools in the country. The directives from the president indeed came at the right time to help contain the supersonic speed with which the novel virus.
The measures though helpful, have also degenerated into massive job losses in the country with those in the private sector, the most badly hit.
We the Coalition of University Students believe this is the right time for a national insurance entity like SSNIT to step into the play in order to rescue the numerous Ghanaian workers under their scheme (SSNIT) who have been affected by the pandemic and are literally dying of hunger as a result.
We, therefore, call on the government to amend the SSNIT law (ACT 2008) which hitherto only permitted workers to take home their pension allowance only after they have gone on retirement, can now have access to their cash in times of crises like the Covid-19 pandemic. Amending (ACT 2008) under the SSNIT pension scheme will enable workers to redraw part of their pension allowance during difficult times like this period of COVID 19 pandemic, which has rendered a lot of breadwinners in Ghanaian homes jobless and beggars.
Our call seeks to resonate with similar sentiments made by the former president of the Republic of Ghana His Excellency John Dramani Manama, when he suggested to government, inter alia, to consider and amend the (ACT 2008 ) of SSNIT Pension scheme law to cater for the social and economic wellbeing of Ghanaian workers during difficult times.
This is a commendable appeal that government ought to give it a second look and possibly consideration and adoption.
We all know these are not normal times, and it’s mostly in abnormal periods like this, certain loopholes of what we otherwise had thought was perfect, actually get exposed and revealed. For example, the impending constitutional crisis Ghana is likely to face should December polls does not take place.
Likewise is every other law in this country that was enacted without factoring in the likelihood of an eventuality like the pandemic that may take place, is found wanting. And what we need to do now is to do the needful, by making amendments to suit our current state of affairs now and tomorrow.
Therefore, there’s the need for some sort of “stimulus package” to be given to those group of Ghanaians who have been saving with the scheme over the years out of their savings.
This, we believe as concerned university students, would serve as part of our strategies to defeating the novel coronavirus.
Dan Abonyi Yamoah
Cape Coast Technical University
Mahmud Abdul Waliu Kabore
Cape Coast Technical University
Idrisu Abdul Hakeem
Ebenezer Amoah Affedzie