In the bustling city of Takoradi, however, subdued by a demonstration and the funeral of the Chief of Takoradi, the SSNIT conference hall played host to a significant event on the 27th of October 2023.
It was a meeting that resonated deeply with the lives of many, one that underscored the vital importance of SSNIT/TUC regional engagement with participants from the informal economy, with a specific focus on pension schemes, known as SEED.
The conference hall buzzed with excitement and anticipation. This palpable energy filled the air as the clock struck 10:35 a.m. The gathering commenced with a heartfelt opening prayer by Mr. Issah Atta, setting the tone for the day ahead.
Mr. Charles Thomson, a prominent figure from the Ghana Revenue Authority, graced the event as the program chairman.
In his opening remarks, he laid out their ambitious plans to support both the formal and informal sectors in securing their financial future.
Mr. Thomson drew attention to a prevailing issue – the heavy reliance on children to provide for their aging parents, often at the expense of personal savings.
He drove the point home by highlighting that over 86% of Ghana's workforce operates within the informal sector, making it abundantly clear that the need for such initiatives couldn't be more urgent.
Following the thought-provoking opening remarks, the baton was passed to Mr. John Ofori, the Director-General of SSNIT (SEED).
In a personal and engaging manner, he delved into the work histories and retirement plans of attendees, making the audience feel truly connected.
With an eye on the future, Mr. Ofori emphasized the importance of retirement planning, extending this crucial advice to all professions, including those often overlooked in the informal sector, such as hairdressers, bartenders, and chefs.
He urged a change in the prevailing mindset where parents bank on their children to support them in their twilight years.
A startling statistic took center stage: out of the 11.5 million strong Ghanaian labor force, a staggering 9.9 million were actively contributing to the nation's growth.
A remarkable 6.7 million of them were self-employed, exemplifying the entrepreneurial spirit that courses through the nation. The remaining 3.2 million were gainfully employed by various organizations and companies.
The discussion then turned to SSNIT's role in securing these hard-earned incomes. Mr. Ofori elucidated the conditions under which insured incomes are safeguarded, highlighting the inclusive approach that covers individuals of all ages.
Moreover, he unveiled the benefits of joining SSNIT, the most surprising of which was providing free national health insurance for members, with premiums seamlessly included in their SSNIT contributions.
The revelation that SSNIT was accessible not only to government workers but also extended benefits to private sector employees left the audience astounded.
As Mr. Ofori showcased the remarkable growth of SSNIT, with an impressive 2 million active contributors, predominantly hailing from the private sector, a particular highlight emerged.
The number of self-employed workers contributing to SSNIT had surged exponentially, from a modest 14,000 to an astounding 56,000 within a year.
This exponential growth underlined the growing awareness of the advantages offered by SSNIT, a testament to its appeal to a broader audience.
The event didn't conclude with the presentation alone; an open forum provided a platform for participants to share their thoughts and ideas.
The SSNIT/TUC regional engagement meeting was more than just a gathering; it was a significant step towards highlighting the importance of pension schemes for those toiling in the informal sector.
Moreover, it served as an avenue to encourage broader participation, paving the way for a more secure financial future for all.