Gov’t says Pension Fund not used to purchase bank

Dr Omane Boamah Red Tie

The Government on Monday denied claims that it has transferred pension funds to Pension Trust Alliance to purchase Merchant Bank.

“We wish to state that per information available to Government this claim is totally false, absolutely unfounded, mischievous and was only invented to justify earlier falsehoods,” Dr Edward Kofi Omane-Boamah, the Minister of Communication, said.

“We challenge anybody who has contrary opinion to boldly step forward to contradict this position. Let us allow decorum and truth to prevail in the discourse.”

He said the funds that had accrued so far were being safely kept by the Bank of Ghana and had been prudently invested for the benefit of pensioners.

Dr Omane-Boamah who was addressing a press conference on Monday in Accra on the strike by organized labour on the Tier Two Pension Fund assured pensioners of their retirement income security under the Scheme.

He said of concern to government was the observation that in discussions that had gone on so far about the organized labour strike, an attempt had been made by sections of society to distort the facts surrounding the Tier Two Pension Scheme matter with a view to misinforming Ghanaians.

“Notwithstanding earlier engagements between Government and Labour Union Leaders, in the immediate aftermath of the declaration of the strike action, strenuous efforts have been made by Government to ensure a speedy resolution of the impasse through dialogue and negotiations,” he said.

The Minister said one of the most deceptive narratives which was often repeated by persons who were not familiar with the actions taken so far to implement the new pensions regime had been that government in violation of provisions of the Pensions Act (Act 766) unilaterally imposed a Trustee on public sector workers.

He said it was instructive to note however that those who advanced this argument often fell short of stating the relevant provisions which government had violated.

He said: “Government believing not only in the rule of law but also the fact that the demand by labour unions to choose trustees for the Tier Two pensions will leave the future of workers, especially when they retire, almost entirely at the mercy of private interest; who cannot provide the same guarantee the concern for citizens’ welfare compels Government to provide, decided to seek judicial pronouncement on section 129 of the law.”

“We are unable to dissect the merits and demerits to support our case out of respect for the courts,” he said.

“We believe a determination of this matter will put to rest any lingering doubt about who has capacity to appoint Trustees to manage Pension Funds. The answer of interpretation as we all knows lies in the bosom of the Judge.”

Dr Omane-Boamah said another distortion of the issue had been that government could not account for Tier Two contributions deducted since 2010.

He said the National Pensions Regulatory Authority (NPRA) clarified this matter last week when it addressed a press conference on October 30.

Dr Omane-Boamah said in pursuant to Section 218 of Act 766, every employer is enjoined to open a Temporary Pension Fund Account (TPFA) into which all Tier 2 deductions will be kept in trust until such time that Trustees are appointed and Fund Managers duly registered.

According to him, the NPRA said the total balance on account held by the Bank of Ghana as at October 27, 2014 was GH?1,641,117,027.70 and that included returns accrued after investment in treasury bills.

He said workers were adequately represented on the Boards of SSNIT and the NPRA Board by highly respected Trade Unionists and therefore had opportunity to regularly learn about the status of their pension funds anytime they required such information as good corporate governance dictates.

“The notion therefore that Government has concealed the details of the funds accrued so far, is misleading,” the Minister said.

He said another distortion making the rounds was that “workers will have choice if Labour Union Leaders are allowed to appoint Trustees and Fund Managers.”

Dr Omane-Boamah said this claim could not be true as what the labour unions had done was to also appoint a single trustee each for their various registered schemes and knowing that this was binding on all workers it cannot be true to assert that the labour leaders were offering Ghanaian workers the power of choice.

“Once again this claim has clearly been thrown in the mix just to further promote issues by those who think they stand to benefit in a cloud of confusion. We have a message for them, their machinations will not work,” he said.

He appealed to organized labour to respect the court order by calling off their strike, while negotiations continue.

source : GNA