Tuesday, October 14, 2014

We want our second-tier pension deductions — POTAG

Members of the Polytechnic Teachers Association of Ghana (POTAG) are up in arms against the government for failing to release their second tier pension deductions for investment.
The association has accused the Bank of Ghana (BoG) of holding on to the 5.5 per cent deductions from the salaries of  its 2,600 members for the past two years.
According to the Chairman of the Accra Polytechnic Chapter of POTAG, Mr Jones Ntiamoah, “the delay in paying the second tier SSNIT deductions to the registered fund managers is creating unease and tension across all the 10 polytechnics”.
He said the government had failed to release the amount deducted since 2012 to the private pension managers, “although many of our members have either retired or are about to go home”.
Expressing worry over the delay, Mr Ntiamoah said members who had retired were worried and “simply don't know what will happen to their funds”.
He said these were members who had served the country diligently for decades and it was, therefore, not fair for them to be treated in such manner.
Consequently, members of the association have given the government up to the end of October 2014 to release the money to fund managers for investment.
“Otherwise, we will pursue all legitimate means to address our grievances,” Mr Ntiamoah warned. 
He could not state the exact amount involved, but said it was in the range of millions of cedis.
Warming up
Mr Ntiamoah said “with the pension reforms, SSNIT no longer pays lump sums after retirement”, adding that the new Pension Act had now mandated private pension managers to manage the 5.5 per cent deductions on behalf of employees. 
“All the 10 chapters are warming up to register their displeasure with the government for the delay in releasing the deductions made so far. 
“My members think they can be short-changed because their deductions are not being invested. 
“What is baffling and interesting is that we have reliably been informed that the government intends to release the funds to private fund managers set up by the top echelon of power linked with the government,” he said.
He explained that the Controller and Accountant-General’s Department (CAGD) used to deduct their contributions for onward submission to SSNIT, but with the introduction of the new Pension Act, the money was now channelled to the BoG.
“We want them to release the amount to the registered fund managers selected by POTAG. They are United Pension, HFC and Stanbic Bank,” Mr Ntiamoah added.
He said this was not an issue that must be dragged because members of the association had earned their money and deserved good investment on their funds.
Be calm
Urging the members of POTAG to be calm, a Deputy Minister of Education, Mr Samuel Okudzeto Ablakwa, said his outfit had referred the issue to the Ministry of Employment and Labour Relations for redress.
“The Ministry of Employment and Labour Relations is working on their concerns and we urge them to be patient,” he said.
This latest warning from POTAG comes barely two months after its members called off a three-month-long strike in protest against the government’s failure to pay them book and research allowances.
POTAG members were on strike from May 15, 2014 to August 31, 2014, resulting in the closure of all polytechnics in the country.
The association, however, called off the strike after a memorandum of understanding (MoU) had been signed between it and the government.
The MoU indicated that the book and research allowance for the 2013/2014 academic year would be paid.

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