Business in Ghana

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Pension Lotto Numbers. Critical News, 2nd November 2014

Posted by Business in Ghana on November 2, 2014

Sydney Casely-Hayford, sydney@bizghana.com

My lights stayed on for two weeks. Productivity soared for the period and I caught up with so many deliverables and deadlines I walked to and from the office, chest puffed with confidence, a grin on my face, that I could make promises and not excuses to clients with the proverbial “dumsor”. I was in work heaven and the angels of kilowatts were singing a tune I liked.

Not even in my youthful exuberant days did I so relish the perfection of deliverable success. I was on the phone boasting to clients and bringing dates forward with confidence.

I have no plans to buy a generator because the triangle of incompetents at ECG, VRA and GRIDCO cannot do a simple thing like keeping energy consistent after so many years and so much price hike.

I steadfastly hold on to the belief that one day ………!

Then they “dumm-ed” the power. On Saturday when I was on my way to Citifm to discuss the big Issues of the week, they flipped the switch. After I had planned a speech of praise, they sneaked to the transformer and triggered a dumsor-message through the circuits, traveling so fast, I did not see it coming.

In the middle of printing vital research about the pensions matter, my printer stopped with a piece of paper between its teeth, swore a huge protest and went silent.

Thus ended my energy dawn. I had tasted working in a power flowing state, competing to the best of my intellect against other professionals whose advantage is not that they know more, but because they have consistency in the tools needed to deliver well researched reports and projects on time.

They have uninterrupted electricity and they have fast internet that stays connected.

We have suffered too much with this power crisis; it is pushing the cost of doing business too high. We sound like idiots when we have to explain why a report is unduly late and it is taking its toll on core happiness.

I resent the idea that Ghanaian business must invest in generators just to keep abreast with other places. It is unfair and uncompetitive.

But the Westhills Mall opened and I shuddered at the cost of energy to run the place. If you have not foraged westward yet, please take time off and make a trip. There is no need to head out to USA, Britain and South Africa or even Dubai to go look for fine things.

Over the weekend, the shop was packed, the clientele clearly traveled from Kasoa, Winneba and further west to walk around, browse, buy a few expensively discounted goods and go back home to talk about the experience. I was impressed, very impressed that Westside Accra now has something to compete against the Eastside Accra Mall.

And the place is clean. No need to respond to Minister for Local Government Julius Debrah and his clean up campaign call. But I relished the cleaner Accra on the way to Adabraka from McCarthy Hill, Saturday morning. I have no problem with calling for a clean out every now and then, I have a problem with Accra Mayor Oko Vanderpuye; still holding a position he should not have.

But the big ghosts in the room are the ones sitting in the boardrooms of Fortiz Private Equity Fund, First Banc and Pensions Alliance Trust (PAT).

In an intricate way, there are persons linked as directors and owners of these companies, involved in worker pension monies and through some commonality involved in the Merchant Bank, now Universal Merchant Bank acquisition.

Pensions Alliance Trust was selected and appointed the sole trustee to manage Tier 2 pension contributions by former finance minister Dr. Kwabena Duffuor. In a letter dated 25th October 2012, ref no. RSD/ADMIN/10/12, then finance minister Duffuor awarded the Trustee a five-year contract to manage the worker contributions without the Unions’ consent and involvement.

Subsequently on 22 November 2012, The Civil and Local Government Staff Association (CLOGSAG) wrote to complain about the imposition of a trustee over their money (5% hard earned contributions) without their consent and in their opinion against the tenets of the National Pensions Act 766.

You need to understand this situation in simple terms. Government and other stakeholders decided that SSNIT’s inefficiency could not continue and we spent three and more years defining a new law to transfer funds management to the owners of the money.

The Tier 2 schemes are the sum of the previous 5% contributions taken from SSNIT to be placed with private trustees and fund managers. This money belongs to the salaried employees who have worked for it and plan to place it in trust for their future.

Government now says because they are the employer they have a right to decide who should manage the funds. They have no interest in the money, it is not theirs, is not coming from their pocket but they want to control it. It is like doing house chores, your father pays you for the work done, you decide to save half of it for your use in future and father says, because I paid you I should decide what you do with it.

The only reason why something like this can happen and government refuse to release the money to Unions is because the money has been diverted someplace else and is not available now. Nothing else makes sense.

You see there is too much money involved. It is more than lotto numbers on a Friday. Bigger than turning and repeating numbers. The Director of the National Pensions Regulatory Authority puts the figure at roughly ghc1.64billion. If this money happens to be managed by persons sympathetic to the NPP, it provides good campaign funds come election time.

That is why PAT. The directors of the organization, according to their website are Rosa Kuduadzi, a former Vice Chair of the GIPC appointed by Prof. Mills. Janet Nana Thompson, a member of the NDC Council of Elders, Akwasi Addae Boahene, a former director of SADA appointed by the President, and Emmanuel Botchwey of Regimmanuel Grey, a known NDC financier.

Every one of them has solid links to the NDC government. Some are also involved in one way or the other with FORTIZ, First Banc and UMB bank.

Which is why the move by Government to seek interpretation of the Pension Law (a law they crafted with stakeholders) at the Supreme Court has bad intention.

On 21 January 2013, IMANI Ghana wrote to Minister Terkper and Nii Armah Ashitey, then Ministers for Finance and Local Government, requesting pertinent information about all this.

Who is Pension Alliance Trust? Who are the shareholders/true owners? How were they awarded the contract without competitive bidding? What is the relationship between PAT and the board of the NPRA?

I have answered some of the questions.

But we have to stay vigilant. There is more to this saga than we see. It is a lot of lotto money when you look at the fee structure. It shifts away from money and makes politics.

The NDC government will do anything to keep this lotto money with friendly party persons. The NPP, the PPP, the PNC and whichever party is alive to their duties regarding the livelihood of workers and citizens of Ghana must stop this rape and thievery in its tracks.

With too much to say, I have run out of space for the week. Doubtless this story will run into next week and beyond.

In the meantime, why is the Chief Justice holding us at bay with her prima facie determination on the removal of the CHRAJ boss? Madam CJ have you got the petition from the president’s office yet?

The Alliance for Accountable Governance wanted to stomp the streets of Accra but were thwarted on some flimsy ex-parte excuse of ECOWAS heads of State. I won’t be surprised if the “emergency” meeting is postponed for irrelevant reasons.

We removed another constitutional dictator from Burkinabe. Goodbye Blaise Campaore, we will not miss you. Some history just has to be recorded.

So #OccupyGhana will hold a double-do two week event on corruption. 12th and 20th November, we have invited Pastor Mensa Otabil and Bishop Palmer Buckle to tell us what they think about corruption. Manasseh Azure, Esi Ansah and Ace Ankomah will also shout out.

We are determined that this country will live up to its billing as the leading black star of Africa. It’s a citizen’s pride and we will claim it to the fullest. No one is going to fix the ruined system unless we push him or her to do so.

Ghana, Aha a ye din papa. Alius atrox week advenio. Another terrible week to come!

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One Response to “Pension Lotto Numbers. Critical News, 2nd November 2014”

  1. BDE said

    Hi Sydney, keep it up. We use to commiserate some years at that office in North Ridge on power sector challenges then you uped and left and now I have also had to, why I seek legitimate ways to keep sane and ensure I am up to my fatherly, sonly, brotherly, niecely, nephewly responsibilities. Home keeps tagging at my heart strings but the current going-ons will make a grown man weep. Up #occupyGhana! Were the previous governments this callous and also seemingly shameless?

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